When I get together with my grandchildren, at some point, one of them inevitably raises a particular question. My granddaughter phrases it in the cutest way among the kids when she smiles and inquires, "Ride on Papaw's back?"It seemed like a rather harmless and fun activity when I initiated it with my first grandchild when he was just a toddler. But now I've got three of them who want to take turns draped around my neck while we go trotting through the house, including the one who began the tradition, even though he's considerably bigger and heavier now.
And a fourth one is watching from his infant seat with a glimmer in his eye like he can't wait for his turn a few months down the road.
After a session of providing rides to all three kids last weekend, I found myself huffing and puffing quite heavily for a few minutes. It served as a reminder to me that I hadn't been exercising regularly. As a matter of fact, I probably hadn't logged any miles on our stationary bike in over a couple of months.
I've been telling myself that I need to do it, that it's important for my health. But that reasoning in itself just didn't seem to get me motivated enough.
However, now I know if I want to keep hearing the giggles and laughter of grandkids as they ride on their Papaw's back, I had better keep myself in better shape. If doing it for myself didn't get me moving, the thought of doing it for my grandkids ought to do so.
Similarly, we know that we need to keep ourselves in shape spiritually. The Bible challenges us to "exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (I Timothy 4:7-8).
We recognize how beneficial it is to ourselves and our relationship with God to follow those disciplines and participate in those activities that help us grow in our faith. We realize the importance of regularly spending time reading God's Word so that we can receive the nourishment which our souls need.
We see the value in daily times of prayer as we fellowship with our Father, share our hearts with Him, intercede for others, and seek to be conformed to His will. We know that it's beneficial for us to meet with other Christians for times of worship, Bible study, prayer, and fellowship.
We don't have to be told that these, along with other activities, lead us toward good spiritual health. Yet too often we still neglect to do them.
Maybe we need to remember that it's not just for our sake that we should seek to keep ourselves in proper spiritual condition. There are others who will be impacted by it, too. Our families, friends, co-workers, and fellow believers need us to be the strong Christian that God calls us to be.
If we allow ourselves to grow weak in our faith, it will leave a gap in their lives. There will be times when they may need to lean on us during tough situations. Will we have the spiritual vigor to assist them? Those people may be looking to us as examples to follow. Will we be the godly model they can emulate?
So be faithful in keeping yourself growing toward godliness and Christlikeness. Not only is it vital for you, but it may also be essential for the people you care about.
Gotta go now. It's time for me to get reacquainted with that stationary bike.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.