On the stretch of Little Neck Parkway from the train station to the church, there is a nice incline in the road. It’s a good workout, especially on a nice day, not too hot, not too cold. Soon I feel the effects of the incline. The stretch in the muscles. My breathing pace changes. Not in the best of shape, the incline does challenges me.
The “Little Neck Incline” reminds me of the “hill” setting of the treadmill at the gym. Without knowing the setting shifts. We have to adjust. Going up. Going down. Sometimes just cruising along.
The challenges of our physical body to face the inclines are just as significant as the spiritual inclines we face. Often we are confronted with a moral or spiritual challenge. How to help in a situation. How to respond to a difficult remark. We often feel the same physical reactions as if we were in a workout! Our heart starts pounding. Our minds are preoccupied. We are in a spiritual workout.
I had a friend who needed to go to 12-step meetings. It took her months before she stepped instead the rooms. Another friend struggles with patience as his incline. He’s had to learn to breathe more slowly so he treats people kindly.
It is said that Jesus might have walked 25 miles a day. He faced his inclines and his parables and teachings give us insight into the inclines of life.
So what’s your incline? What slows you down, throws you off, makes you struggle? Like all exercise, it is meant to make us stronger and more fit. The same is true for spiritual exercise. It's going to ache and hurt a little but it's for our very best. So when you are facing your incline, pick up your Bible, say your prayers, turn to fellow "gym buddies" for support. Before you know it, that spiritual body will be getting toned with the help of Jesus, the best spiritual trainer we could have!