Wednesday, March 24, 2010

She Strengthens Her Arms

“She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.”

In nearly epidemic proportions, Americans head to the gym to perfect their bodies. And after reading this verse, one might be tempted to think that she would have made a great American. But we already know from reading verse 30 that we do not need to pursue physical beauty, so there must be more in this verse than meets the eye (no pun intended).

We also know from our study, that this is a woman who has a lot on her plate. I’m not sure where she would find time to go to the gym or even exercise at home. But maybe we are thinking of it as a separate piece when really we have already seen the answer. We assume that because she’s getting stronger, she much be lifting weights or doing push-ups. But the answer is much simpler. I’ll give you an example; if any of you have ever grown a garden, you know that to make those plants grow and produce fruit, you have to do more than just plant and water. There are always weeds to dig out so that the plants have room to grow. And even before you can plant, you must till the ground and prepare it to receive the plants. This takes lots and lots of physical labor. Your arms get stronger and so does your back (which incidentally is what the word “loins” is referring to; your lower back). She also spins (not the kind that involves a bike) and weaves, which require your arms to be strong and flexible. In fact, as you read through the verses again, you’ll find many times where she is “exercising” in everyday life.

Now in our modern world, where we don’t have a lot of those things to do anymore, you are probably like me and wondering just how to find the time to strengthen our backs and arms. And it is important to find the time to be healthy. Taking a walk with your kids is a great way to build muscle and strengthen your body. Just think of pushing all that weight for a mile or so a few times a week! And we get the added benefit of spending our exercise time with our children, training them in healthy activity, instead of shuffling them off so we can work out. Make them a part of it. Just picking them up can be a work out in and of itself!

As we are learning, what we should be doing as Godly women has much more to do with why we are doing something than it does with what we are doing. So I will ask this question, why do we exercise? If we are no longer motivated by our appearance, what will drive us to want to exercise? Well, first of all if we are healthy, we can take better care of our families. Ask any mother who is sick or overweight like me and they can tell you that even 10 extra pounds can make it harder to pick up your children or play with them. So being active is important in being there to care for your family. The second reason I see is related; if you are not healthy, you will not have the energy, strength or will to do any of the work that God has called you to do. It is about health, not image. It is a very practical reason to try our best to stay strong and healthy. Of course, you cannot be completely healthy without a good diet, so if you want to be truly strong, you will have to make careful choices about the foods you will eat and also feed to your family.

The last reason to work on your strength is something I mentioned before; our children will do what they see us doing. If we want our children to be healthy, i.e., eating healthy foods and getting the exercise they need to be healthy, then we must set the example. Let them see you walking or working in your backyard. Better yet, if they are old enough, hand them a small shovel or rake and get them involved. Work alongside your children in the same way you play with them. Teaching your children to work and thereby being healthy, is of a much greater importance to them in the long run than teaching them to play. Just think of how much time you as an adult spend playing during the day. Is it really going to serve your children well to be taught how to do something well that in later years they will spend very little time doing? That is not say that play time is not important, but it should be play that will not just serve a fun purpose but also a practical one. Playing dolls can teach your daughters about being a good mommy. Playing video games just teaches them to sit and mechanically repeat motions.

I would challenge each of you to evaluate what you do regarding activity both as a mom and as a family; is there something you can do that would be productive for you and your children that would also serve as exercise time? Are there playtime activities that your children can also be learning from? The goal is to be active instead of passive. Pray and ask God to show you just what you can do to be more active in your lives and see what a great, big world He opens up to you!

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