Lesson 2- Strengthen Your Core

For me, physically strengthening my core was a joke. When I started Jazzercize, they would say, “engage your core” throughout the workout. I would laugh and think I have no core, because the oncologist cut it out. To tighten my abs just did not happen. I couldn’t even feel them when I tried. That is very sad to say, but true. After about a month of making an effort to tighten whatever muscles they told me to in each song, I began to see a difference. Then one day I felt my core tighten! What a great thing to feel like I was reclaiming what I had lost. I have to say I am a long, long way from having flat abs, however, I am feeling the results of engaging my muscles. There is strength in your core, and because it is central in your body, everything else relates to that strength. Your back stands straighter, your hips and legs carry your body better, your shoulders are back and you hold your head higher. Amazing to think how important that is, and how I have neglected it. I mean when you are my size, sit ups are not your favorite thing to do. They are hard. They hurt. It is easy to give it up and go have a bowl of ice cream instead, but I am determined to continue.
As I was pushing hard one day, I heard the Lord say, “Strengthen your core.”
My response was, “What do you think I am doing here on this floor gasping for breath? I am trying, honestly I am.” (I don’t know if you ever smart off to God like that, but I do, because he totally gets me and knows my heart is not disrespectful.)
He said it again, “Strengthen your core.”
Now whenever he says something twice in a row, I take note, even if I am sweating buckets in a crowd of women moving around on the floor to loud music. When I got home that day, I thought about that statement, and began to see the parallel, which is exactly what he wanted me to see.
You have a physical core, but you also have a spiritual one. If your physical core is strong, your body is strong. If your spiritual core is strong, your spirit is strong. There are many “exercises” to strengthen your spiritual core. The disciplines, of course…prayer and being in the word regularly, but that is not all. When you think about it, praying and reading are not all that hard. Making the time, yes that is a challenge, but when you carve it out the actual reading is not difficult.
To me there is a difference between exercising your core and engaging it. Going through the motions may bring some results over time, but if you want to really see a difference, you have to actively engage. That means apply what you read. It means wrestle with God and ask questions of him. It means having ongoing communication and sharing the deepest places of your heart with him, and obeying what he tells you. It means listening to his heartbeat and taking note of what is important to him. It is not passive, but active and alive. If your spiritual core is strong, your feet will take you where he walks. Your hands will reach out in ministry to others. You will hold yourself up as you move into that to which he has called you.
As hardships and heartaches come along, the God’s real work begins. It is the tension, which builds your core. If your core is already engaged, the trials of life build upon that foundation…crushing you down so that you come back stronger. If your core is weak, more time, more tears, and more efforts to survive are required. If you have given up on your core, you will simply be apathetic and give up on your dreams…sitting, not moving forward with purpose or abandon. When God says to strengthen your core he is saying to fortify your spiritual life. To be strong in the faith so you can walk out into what he has for you. Engage with him. Don’t quit. If your core is weak, it will take time to see the results, but they will come as you reclaim what you have given up. As you learn to trust yourself with the dreams he put in your heart, you will find hope rising up. A fire will ignite your will to be strong, and to move forward with him…in him.
You will fall on your knees and ask him, “Lord where do I go? What do I do?”
And he will say, “Strengthen your core.”

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