In my own experience, I’ve found it takes three things in order to lose weight: a strong determination, exercise and good food choices. When I’ve had these three things working together, I’ve been able to lose weight. Without them, I tend to gain weight. I’ve also found that spiritual growth and intimacy with God takes the same three elements. When I put my focus and energy into these three areas, I experience intentional growth and closeness with God. When I lose sight of them, I tend to drift along spiritually.
The first thing I’ve found that I’ve needed is a strong determination. I have to choose to want to grow and to get closer in my relationship with God. The moment you decide to move closer to God, you will begin to see lots of barriers in your way. If you have not fully committed to pushing forward, you will lose sight of the goal and turn back around. Any time I start to feel discouraged and want to quit moving forward, I remember II Chronicles 15:7. It says, “But you must be strong and not be discouraged. The work that you do will be rewarded. (GNB)” Keep your eye on the reward and encourage yourself to keep going.
Next you will need to begin exercising your faith if you want to see improvements. Just like physical exercise, spiritual exercise is not easy. It involves stretching yourself, making commitments that others won’t and cutting out certain areas of your life that waste your time or push you away from God. Fasting is a great example of spiritual exercise. It denies your flesh what it wants and spends time in prayer and reading God’s Word in its place. You choose how long the commitment is and what it involves. I’ve found that having someone to fast with keeps me accountable and improves the results. I Timothy 4:8 says, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. (NLT)”
The third part is the toughest for me. Making the right choices on my spiritual intake. There are so many things that are bad, but just like regular food, some of my favorites are not good for me. Putting in the wrong types of food are detrimental to the goal. You can take one step forward in exercising and two steps back in spiritual food consumption. What you put into your spirit through TV, movies, books and music matters. Each one either feeds your spirit junk food or proper nutrition. Making the right choices determines the growth and intimacy you will see.
I read a quote from Jeanne Mayo that has had me thinking quite a bit. She said, “Salvation and grace are free, but closeness and intimacy with God are not. They will cost you.” Unfortunately, most of us are content to live with the free gifts of salvation and grace. That’s not God’s desire. James 4:8 says, “Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.” He wants us to move closer to Him. He wants us to have intimacy with Him. The question is: Do you have the will power and determination to pay the cost through spiritual exercise and what you feed your spirit to make it happen?