OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #304 Pick Up Those Heels
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11
A few weeks ago I made a discovery while jogging on our city’s walking trails. I took about 30 seconds off my time for a kilometre just by picking up my feet. I found that lifting my heels a little higher and stepping a little further took only a little extra effort, but the payoff was big. Like I said, I took about 30 seconds off my time on a kilometre. A real measurable difference, just by picking up my feet.
Let me go back a little to explain something. Jogging is not my favourite form of exercise. Actually, I really don’t enjoy it. It is hard, intensive work, but I do like the benefits it brings to me - fitness, weight control, good blood pressure. The first fifteen minutes are the toughest until my body gets into a rhythm. After 30 minutes, my lungs feel great and I really like that, but until then I just keep reminding myself it will be worth it.
As you might appreciate, attitude in this is everything, and sometimes mine is not helpful. My body is often more capable than my mind tells me, especially if I’m mentally tired. That’s how I started shuffling a little more, not lifting my heels, not stretching my step. “Let’s just get this over with” does get the job done, but not enthusiastically. Picking up my heels didn’t take much energy, but it boosted my running and the difference was notable. All it took was putting a little zeal into my step.
This brings us back to the passage. I don’t know about you, but my zeal goes up and down. Sometimes I’m enthusiastic to serve the Lord, to keep up my spiritual disciples like Bible reading and prayer, and serve others. And, sometimes I don’t feel like it so much.
There are times I need to pick up my feet spiritually, and what I’ve found is that my feelings often follow my actions. I don’t feel like putting a little more into it, but as I get going, I feel better, and put more into it, which increases both my zeal and my energy.
Someone is likely going to write to me saying something like this. “But Troy, surely you realize that our spiritual life is about more than just striving, more than just our effort. You make it sound like we’re trying to earn God’s love.” Point noted. We shouldn’t think that somehow God will love us more if we do more. God just loves us. No more, no less. However, scripture reminds us many times that we have a responsibility to follow faith with action. If we believe stealing is wrong, then we shouldn’t steal. If we believe God is love, then our actions (and reactions) ought to be kind and loving. That’s faith followed by action.
This is about faith and action. As I ran that day and reflected that my running time improved just by picking up my feet a little, I wondered (running does give me lots of time to think...) if perhaps there are times I drag my feet spiritually. I concluded, yes, there are times my zeal lacks, I’m not putting my best into things, I’m not acting like I really believe in God’s goodness, and I need to lift my spiritual heels.
I hope this helps. I would never want to think that I increased someone’s burden by writing about the “Himalayas of the human condition.” Rather, by talking about these things together I hope to encourage us. I have often seen that, spiritually speaking, we get out way more than we put in. As so Paul says, “let us keep up our spiritual fervour.”
Blessings, and be on fire.
OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published July 13, 2013. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at www.onfireletter.blogspot.com