WHEN I began jogging several years ago, I had, well, an ulterior motive. I thought that if my husband and I ran together it would help him get in shape! As usual with such schemes, the whole thing backfired. My husband lost interest. I, on the other hand, was hooked on the sport. When I no longer had the excuse of keeping my husband in shape, I needed to rethink my reason for running. As I thought about it, seeking a stronger, sleeker body -- even if it wasn't for myself -- hadn't really been a good motive in the first place.
As a student of Christian Science I had learned that good health has its source in God, divine Spirit. The more we awake to our perfect, spiritual nature as God's children and live in accord with the laws of God, the more we naturally feel the vigor, freedom, and dominion of Spirit. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The necessity for uplifting the race is father to the fact that Mind can do it; for Mind can impart purity instead of impurity, strength instead of weakness, and health instead of disease.''
How, exactly, does God maintain our health? The beneficent power of Spirit is communicated to us through Christ, God's message of truth. No one ever discerned or demonstrated Christ better than Jesus. His healing works, as recorded in the Gospels, have never been matched. Christ, Truth -- the Word of God -- is present today to enable us to experience God's healing power. In prayer, we receive Christ. We begin to feel that God, divine Love, is holding us tenderly in His care. The effect of this prayerful communion with God is tangible, physical healing.
Well, then, if health is a gift of God, maintained by divine Spirit, is there any reason to run? Oh, yes! For me, at least, the reason is to express the vitality, stamina, joy, and grace that come from God. When I run, I take the opportunity to utilize and develop the spiritually-based qualities of thought I've been learning about in prayer.
How delighted I've been to see self-imposed limitations crumble. When I started, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to jog at all. But by trusting that strength comes from Spirit and is mine as God's expression, more and more has been possible. Interestingly, I've found that one can actually pray deeply while arms swing rhythmically and footfalls punctuate the morning stillness.
This spiritual approach has had some other benefits as well. I've been running for six years without any injuries -- no torn ligaments or twisted ankles. I attribute this to my more spiritual motivation for running. If one's reason for being active is to express the divine nature, wouldn't that rule out overexertion or accidents and the pain associated with them? When, through prayer, we feel the presence of divine Mind, providing us with wisdom and alertness, these God-derived qualities nullify the suggestion that we could suffer from expressing the freedom and joy that are an inherent part of man's spiritual nature.
Does it follow, then, that everyone who loves God and seeks to honor Him will be interested in jogging? Heavens, no! Each of us will find his or her own way of utilizing God-given attributes. As diverse as our individual natures are, that's how diverse our expression of grace and strength will be.
The Psalmist may not have had any interest in recreational sports. Yet he knew that the Holy Spirit empowered him to move with agility. He wrote: ``It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.''