Walking the Plank

For me, there is a genuine excitement to a new month with opportunities to chart on each new day. It is invigorating looking at the open calendar like an artists’ white canvas. Inspired by life’s demanding practices, and lessons learned in prior months, it becomes an opportune moment to be better; to become a better version of ourselves. Sometimes as we begin again, we encounter changes we may not understand in the moment, but with daily commitment to God, he gives clarity to our confusion.

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 33:3, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” Do you realize God holds your Master Plan in his hands? He knows all about this new month and what lies ahead for you in days to come. Have you asked Him to share his heart and thoughts with you about those things that you do not know? Does your practice time include spending time with Him this month?

At the beginning of the New Year I discussed with my Senior Strength Training students that we would be practicing the plank exercise in each of our classes. Prior to this year we had been doing specific exercises on the Stability Ball to strengthen our core. The students understand the importance of strength training and how maintaining a strong core helps reduce pain in the back, spine, hips knees and upper body, so there were only a few groans about practicing the plank. The students realize practice makes a stronger body, it will not happen on its own.

So, I already know your question, “What’s so great about planks?” For one, the plank builds core strength, promotes balance, and encourages good posture. It also works all your major muscle groups. While you initially feel it in your core, in about ten seconds the body starts commandeering supporting muscles to hold itself up. The second point, it is an incredibly functional exercise. This means it mimics a movement used throughout the day. When we are standing we are in a moving plank. Of course, it would only be beneficial if maintaining good posture and pulling the navel to the spine.

Here is the best part of the story, several new students have joined our fitness classes in the past few months, and some of them have told me that after being in the classes for only two weeks, they were already noticing feeling stronger and healthier. Most importantly, they are encouraged by their body’s response to exercise!

First Peter 2:5 tells us, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” 
Getting stronger physically doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes practice! Practice begins with a conscious decision to work, and then commitment to follow through. Our class initially practiced holding the plank for fifteen seconds, and incrementally increased the time over the next few weeks to a minute. Most encouraging is the noticeable improvement in posture as the 
students begin to bring their improved strength into functionality. Practice literally brings us closer to perfection.

Whether conscious or not, some of us have chosen to accept where we are in life, breaking down, in pain, and missing out on the real opportunities for life. I do believe many have allowed their spirit to be broken, and this spiritual apathy has led to muscle atrophy. Be encouraged, God is not done with you! If you have not heard from God, it may be because you have not been spending time practicing life with Him.

I realize we are all practicing life at different places, that’s a given, but regardless of the season, game day is coming. There is coming a time when we will face a challenge which requires physical or spiritual strength, or perhaps both. Will you be ready?

How have your practices been going? Are you keeping your eyes on the goal of a closer relationship with God? To know God requires being in his presence, studying and learning about Him, staying focused on the prize. I remember as a young mother reading a few pages of an encouraging book or devotional in the car riders line waiting for my kids to get out of school. It was a very simple way to connect with God, and yet, brought great peace to my family.

Stay focused and make your physical and spiritual strength functional. I believe Colossians 2:6-7 (MSG) is talking about taking your practice to the next level, injecting it into your daily life, “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.”

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