So I’ve started a process-started it about 3 or 4 months ago-to get my sorry self in shape. I’m five feet eight inches tall, and at my zenith, weighed 255 pounds. Let me save you the math…that’s an atrocity. I’ve been that way for more years than I care to admit. I began having trouble sleeping, always feeling tired, and having zero energy, drive, or positive outlook; even took depression meds for a year.
That’s a setup to this story. God got my attention last year, with really close death fly-by. I was trying to improve myself, working really hard on fitness…too hard for my condition. I tore an artery in my neck, that supplies blood to my brain. I was told that I was extremely lucky, and for six months after getting out of the hospital, I couldn’t lift anything. Not even my daughter, without high risk. It was a wake up call…for awhile. But I didn’t change my habits. I was killing myself. I’m not certain I wasn’t subconsciously doing it on purpose, because that amount of fatigue, lack of motivation, and depression can have a cumulative effect.
The scriptures have some things to say about this, surprised as I was to hear God tell me that those verses I’d always heard were also about my poor health. But I’ve figured out that’s just how God loves to do things-to throw curve balls and surprises, just for fun. It’s just another of a litany of things I’ve grown to love about Him. Anyway, here are the ones that took top honors:
1 Corinthians 9:27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
Hebrews 5:14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
2 Samuel 22:35 He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
Psalm 144:1 Praise the LORD, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.
Hosea 7:15 I trained them and made them strong…
Joel 3:10 Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.
1 Timothy 4:8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
Hebrews 12:11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
That last one stopped me cold. Yes, I am just like most other folks, who tended to overspiritualize these verses, but that last verse has been so overspiritualized that it has lost any sense of practical application. Father gave me a very practical application, and pointed at my body mass index to illustrate His point. Did I mention He did it with a wink and a smile? I love it when He does that. No shame. But perfectly understood.
As I write this, I am now 51 pounds lighter. I have about 30 or so more to go, until I’m at least satisfied. I have more energy, more drive, a more positive outlook, and the single most important improvement…I can play with my kids again. My seven year old boy loves to shoot hoops, and we get out on his goal nearly everyday and shoot. I played basketball as a youth, and it’s great to be in a position to love it again, and not get so tired so quickly. My 11 year old and I are going spelunking this weekend, spending the night in the cave, and it’s a cave with a few ‘fat man squeeze’ points in the hike. This time last year, I would’ve had to tell him we couldn’t go. Now I can. I’m eating healthy, exercising…and my kids see it. I have already been training them in the spiritual; now I’m training them in the physical, and doing it from a position of integrity, because I’m practicing what I’m preaching. It’s the single best way for fathers to exact positive influence and character shaping in their children. Do it yourself.
Dads, this is a call from a dad who is doing it-get yourself in shape. Not just spiritually. But holistically. Too many young sons and daughters are obese, and it’s our fault for not leading. But we have an opportunity to change that. And we must, if we are to lead well.
So, stop reading this blog post, close the computer, get up, and get moving!