Atrophy. I don’t even like the sound of that word. Merriam-Webster defines it as:
1: A decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue atrophy of muscles also : arrested development or loss of a part or organ incidental to the normal development or life of an animal or plant; 2 : A wasting away or progressive decline.
There’s one thing about atrophy: sometimes it’s caused by our own actions, or inaction. Other things can cause it, an accident or injury, disease; but sometimes it’s entirely on us.
Like me; I’m so out of shape I’m embarrassed! My siblings and I were brought up with a work-til-you-drop work ethic. Dad could walk a horse to death, and he walked over a good portion of central and north Missouri as a conservationist, hunter, and fisherman. My sister bought us all t-shirts that say “I don’t quit when I’m tired, I quit when I’m DONE!”
Whew! I find in my golden years (don’t let anyone kid you, they’re more like tarnished brass!) I’m not nearly as able nor willing to do some things. But I’ve got to hand it to my brothers and sister, they keep on going and going, just like that little Energizer Rabbit. I keep telling them that’s it okay to slow down a bit, God gave us kids and grandkids to do the heavy lifting!!
No, there’s not much atrophy in them, but me, well, let’s just say I’m in need of some more exercise!!
But there’s a part of our lives that we work at (and it does take effort) and that is avoiding spiritual atrophy. Frankly, I believe that’s why God puts trials and troubles in our path–to keep us dependent on Him. There’s no more important part of our life than our relationship with Jesus, who continues to point us to God. “I and the Father are One” He said.
And the most important time we can spend is time in prayer and in the Word of God. We have been given spiritual gifts – spiritual muscles, if you will – that we must exercise and use to improve them for our selves, but also for others. Paul told Timothy “16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ”
Not only that, but we find hope, encouragement, discernment, understanding, knowledge, and indeed, most importantly, salvation, in Scripture. “11 Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. ‘ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4.
An older Methodist preacher told my brother that we should be “ready to preach, pray, or die, at a moments notice.”
Many are saying the American church is about to come under real persecution, in fact, there have been some instances happening already. I know I need to prepare myself not only physically, but spiritually.
Just as our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), we should not let physical or spiritual atrophy set in by our own lack of exercise. Our witness is not limited to what we believe and say about God, it also includes how we live and treat our physical bodies.