It had been a long workout, and I was reaching the point of exhaustion. In my mind, I had decided to quit in the next few minutes. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a young man barely out of his teens limping through the crowded gym.
He grabbed an exercise mat and sat down on the floor next to me. His artificial leg was perhaps the most noticeable difference between the two of us—70 percent of his right leg had been blown off by an explosive device while he was on tour in Iraq. For the next 45 minutes, I observed as he went through a challenging workout routine.
Gone were my earlier thoughts of quitting. This was the 10th time in as many weeks that his example had moved and inspired me to greater effort in my workout routine.
Far from the confusion and chaos of war, this wounded warrior had not permitted a life-changing obstacle to stop his progress in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. He was not alone: The local gym has numerous amputees, stroke victims and debilitated elderly members.
A couple of years ago, two serious auto accidents disabled me 40-45 percent. Permanent disc damage to my neck and lower back limit my range of movement. Two years of chiropractic treatments, along with instructions from a personal trainer, have enabled me to work within a limited range of movement. Exercising for an hour a day, six days a week, ensures that my constant pain is temporarily relieved.
God has been merciful. After being anointed, I rest in His absolute promise of healing (James 5:14; Matthew 8:1-3; Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:5). We are ever mindful that nothing physical can compare to the suffering of Jesus Christ who was marred as no other human during his brutal crucifixion (Isaiah 52:14).
It is inspiring to exercise alongside people who have far more serious disabilities and handicaps than me. The positive inspirational actions of others can, and should, lift us to greater summits of accomplishment in our own lives.
Inspire can be defined as “to fill with an animating, quickening or exalting influence.”
“To inspire others, you must be inspired yourself,” states the Spokesman Club Manual in reference to the Number 10 inspire speech. It reminds speakers, “Tell about overcoming, a story with a happy ending, a good moral. Convince the audience they can share this goodness.”
Christ has shown us that the most powerful teaching tool is personal example. Does your example inspire others? Think of the areas in your life where you have already quit or do not exert greater effort in overcoming. Remember: Quitters never win, and winners never quit.
If you prefer to eat lots of potato chips, drink plenty of soda, and frequently play computer games, don’t be shocked when you find it uncomfortable to exercise and that you lack the inspirational power to actively impact others. There is a cause for every effect.
A Church member who owns a private gym and provides personal training recently tweeted, “You may lack shoes but there are others who lack feet. Stay optimistic.” That’s worth thinking about. All too often, we are complaining about what we do not have, or cannot do, instead of expressing appreciation to God for what we do have and can accomplish.
What an honor to be created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:26), to breathe the breath of life and have blood circulating throughout our bodies, so that we can exercise. We humans were not created to be sedentary, inactive blobs. We were created to have an active and healthy abundant life.
Physical education is institutionalized at Herbert W. Armstrong College and Imperial Academy. The academy requires points of accumulative activity each week. This is listed on a form, which is signed by parents and submitted to the P.E. instructor.
As a parent of three teenagers, I see that form as just as significant as a math, English or history test. Herbert W. Armstrong listed good health as the third law of the seven laws of success. Parents have the opportunity and responsibility to participate in exercise with their teens. However, far too many do not or will not. Coordination, fair play and sportsmanship are not imparted by osmosis (Proverbs 22:6).
How did you first learn to run, ride a bike, catch, or kick a ball? The answer should be that your parents taught you. As we grow physically, so does our personal responsibility to care for our divinely engineered body. Regular balanced exercise and a healthy diet (Leviticus 11) send a signal to God about our individual appreciation of His creation of us. Actually, His divine Scriptures command our care and attention to proper physical health (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
At the gym, I still often see that young war veteran exercising and think of his wonderful future when we will “[s]ay to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:4-6).
The next time you think about quitting your workout, not taking that walk, or stopping those ballet classes, softball, or soccer practices, think a moment of those without a leg, an arm or eyesight. Thank God for the level of activity you do have and can enjoy. It is time to get up, get out there, and get active: Inspiring yourself so that you can inspire others.