PEDAL AND PRAISE
Years ago, before we left Canada for mission life in Africa, I knew I needed to lose weight to be healthy. With my background as a personal trainer/fitness instructor, I also knew long-term weight loss involved more than a restricted diet. Regular exercise is crucial. Eat less, move more. That was the formula I gave to others, and I knew I needed to apply it to myself.
A friend saw a gently-used recumbent stationary cycle for a great price at a resale shop. I was aware that riding a recumbent takes away some of the core training you get on an upright cycle, but it would also be easier on the lower spine and allow me to work harder aerobically. Prolonged exercise at an elevated heart rate is what I needed for my much-needed weight loss.
We drove to the store, praying that if God wanted us to have this tool, it would still be there – and it was! I could hardly wait to get it home and get started.
I changed into exercise gear, adjusted the seat, and began pedaling. The electronic screen indicated my heart rate rising quickly. In my poorly-conditioned state, I lasted a mere ten minutes. With patience, persistence, and God’s help, I worked my way up to at least an hour a day, five days a week. I would watch video bike rides while I rode, singing along to worship and praise songs. As my level of fitness rose, my weight dropped. I maintained this routine until it was time to leave for Africa.
PEDAL AND PRAY
Nine years later, back home in Canada, I have a new recumbent cycle, but I also have added fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis to my old diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Cycling for an hour is no more than a dream right now, but with God’s help, I may get there.
I haven’t used any cycling videos yet because setting them up takes longer than my pain threshold, but I do blast worship music on my phone – and I pray, from the first push on a pedal until I stop and stretch: “Lord, I love You. Help me be obedient to Your desire for me to improve my health.”
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:11-13)
GOD GIVES ME STRENGTH
I speak one word with each push. “Without You, I can do nothing. In You, I find my strength.” I check the timer. “God, You are so good. I glorify You.” Tears flow. I use my hands to push my thighs just a little bit longer. Then I raise my hands in worship, pouring out a few more pumps.
This day I made it almost half a minute longer than the day before. That might not sound like much, but to me, it’s huge, and I can’t deny where the power comes from.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
#StepRepPray is an invitation to meet with God in movement—always at the pace of grace. With each step or every rep, seek God’s guidance, worship and praise Him, thank Him for the gift of movement, and lift your heart in prayer for others.
Father God, thank You that You are the source of all strength. You love us and carry us when we cannot move another step. Help us to remember to ask for Your help, the help You are more than happy to give. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
- If you’ve given up on exercise because it seems like it’s all too much, what small movement could you add today and begin again?
- Can you remember a time you asked for God’s strength and accomplished something you thought you could not?
- Do you offer yourself as much grace as you offer to others?
Chronic Joy® Staff Writer and Prayer Team
Karin is a handmaiden of the Lord, saved by grace, a worshiper, a poet, a broken heart, a lover of words, His work in progress on the Potter's wheel. She is hungry for truth and amazed by love. After five years in Africa, Karin and Rick (her beloved husband of twenty years), are back in rural Canada where chronic pain drives her to the feet of Jesus. She is powered by prayer, love, and many cups of strong coffee. She is the author of From Ashes to Glory (A Psalm a Day).
With your doctor’s guidance, and a little creativity, exercising with chronic illness is not just possible, but can be rewarding. Meet with God in movement — always at the pace of grace.