Recently the staff at my company enrolled me in a contest for Austin's Fittest Executive! (see profile page to help me in my quest) I guess that they all know that I love playing squash. But as I looked at the minimum requirements for being involved in this contest, I realized that I can't reach the minimum standard in most of the required exercises. I have been working on doing push up for the past few months, and I have been able to go from 15 to 25. But the minimum standard for push ups is 30. I have two more weeks to reach the goal.
It reminds me of Paul's words in Philippians 2, "but I push on towards the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Now elsewhere Paul tells us "that bodily exercise only profits a little." So what does it mean to prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.
Clearly we have a holistic gospel message. 1 Thessalonians 5 says, "And may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ." I don't know if goals motivate you, but in my experience we are much more likely to hit the target if we know what the target is! Physical health actually helps us with both the mental energy and spiritual drive to go for completeness. It also puts us in an environment where we will meet many others who probably share our holistic goals, but don't know much about the spiritual component. What a great place to share our lives.
Mental/"soulish" health is equally important. Stress reduction through relaxation, through friends and family, by maintaining a healthy work-life balance again powerfully impacts both the body and the spirit. No wonder Proverbs tells us to "guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life."
America is a land that is as much plagued by disease of the mind as it is of the body. Whether the lethargy is leading to physical obesity (usually connected with not enough exercise and/or too much eating) or mental flabbiness (usually connected with not enough challenging goals and/or too much television!), the answer is learning how to exercise the part of us that needs to develop strength.
This is why the spiritual side is actually the most important. The Bible talks about us "being strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man." It is the touch of God that brings life (see John 6:63). Paul could endure hardship because he could draw on the inner resources that God had placed in his life through his relationship with Christ. Whether the challenge is on the squash court, or in the board room, whether it is in family life or on the mission field; it is the inner life where "deep calls unto deep" (see Psalms. 42:7) that drives us to fully reach the goals that God has for every part of our life.