“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
We are in this life bound by the law of faith. The principle of believing in that which you can’t readily see is interwoven throughout much of the human experience. Even as I began to write this article, my eyes were looking at an empty screen, yet I believed if I put forth effort, I would eventually see my invisible ideas manifest visibly within sentences and paragraphs.
Often in Christian circles you may hear the phrase “exercise faith”. As one who loves to play on words when I write, I tend to find dual meanings in almost everything I hear. Having recently dedicated myself to a routine exercise regimen, this term “exercise faith” has become an active object lesson.
As I look in the mirror I see myself out of shape, much the same as I view my moral character. I resolved to exercise to get into shape, even as I’ve resolved to reflect the moral character of Christ, yet I find myself holding on to belief in that which I cannot see. Though my first day of exercise is filled with fatigue, sweat, and muscle soreness, when I look in the mirror the next day I see no visible change in my physique. This continues through day two, three, four, even after a week of consistent exercise there is no noteworthy visible change. Yet, I perseveringly exercise believing that I will obtain that which I cannot see.
What motivates me through this contradiction? For one thing, the testimony of others who have traveled this road before me having obtained the desired goal. Second, my own personal experiences in life in which diligent effort produced visible results that were not manifest at the onset. Third, the scriptures teach me “God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
My belief that exercise will bring about the change in the mirror which is invisible right now, is based on evidence which is visible. Yet even in that I must “exercise faith” to believe the words of those who have achieved success, and that this success is not unique to them. I must believe that I too can make the invisible, visible in myself, even as in my Christian experience I seek to make the character of the invisible God, visible in my character, Christ in me the hope of Glory.
The study of anatomy also gives me evidence that the muscular system is designed to increase in strength and symmetry through use. The body’s physiology assures me that the digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems will begin to work in harmony to aid the muscular system if I put forth diligent effort. Yet, by faith I must believe that as I eat nutritious food the digestive system will process it into the building blocks which the muscles need. I must believe, though I can’t visibly see it, that the circulatory system will carry these tiny building blocks to the muscles. I must believe that the brain will process all the needed information through the nervous system so that all things function properly. Truly without all these invisible things happening in my physiology, all my exercise efforts would be completely vain.
In my Christian experience I must exercise similar faith. I must believe that my human effort as feeble as it is, will work in cooperation with the invisible agencies of heaven for the upbuilding of my moral character. I must understand that the success of my efforts are wholly dependent upon spiritual processes completely invisible to my natural eyes. Truly He who designed the body, designed the plan of redemption.
By faith I know from the first day I began my exercise program, my body began to make changes on a cellular level. I know this by faith, but when I look in the mirror those changes cannot be seen. Certainly from the first day of training there was muscle soreness, and I’m instructed to condition my mind to believe that this discomfort is beneficial, though I see no visible benefits immediately. “Exercise faith” has become a literal reality for me now. I must employ faith to believe that exercise will make visible what is invisible.
Is not the Christian walk similar? Are we not from the first day we choose Christ being changed imperceptibly? Yet don’t we continually see things in our character that tempt us to doubt we are being changed? The Christian experience moves us away from our comfort zone, and don’t we have to condition ourselves to believe that this “discomfort” is beneficial? God is truly marvelous in the way He designs everything in the physical realm, to teach us spiritual realities. It is my prayer now that as I learn to have “exercise” faith, that I will sincerely learn to “exercise faith”.