Friday, May 22, 2009

The Spirit is Willing

"The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matt. 26:41b)

I've recently joined a gym. I am determined to get some extra weight off! I have been squeezing work outs into my crazy May schedule. (Why oh why did I not get this determination in March or April??) Thankfully, I joined the same day as a close friend so it is making this whole process much more enjoyable. But while my spirit is willing; my body is weak.

I strained a deep core muscle years ago by falling down some stairs while I was pregnant with my first son. Instinctively, I used every muscle I had to protect my unborn child. Thankfully he was just fine. It took quite a bit of therapy and time to restore the muscle to the point that I no longer felt that twinge of pain daily.

Each workout has made me feel the strained area a bit more; but I pushed on hoping that maybe the area just needed to be strengthened. Thursday in the midst of "Turbo Kick" class; I was reminded just how weak my body can be. I wanted to be able to push 110% through the rest of the class; but I just physically couldn't do it. In fact, I couldn't even carry my two year old out to the car afterward. It just hurt too much. I was frustrated. Everything in me wanted to continue pushing forward; forcing my body into slim submission.

The spirit was willing; the body was weak.

If you read this verse in context you will see that the words are spoken by Jesus to his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had just told his closest friends that His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. (vs.38) He asked them to stay with Him and to keep watch; instead they fell asleep. If a close friend had just told me that their "soul was overwhelmed to the point of death," I would hope I wouldn't fall asleep. In fact I would desire to be passionately interceeding on their behalf. Jesus returns to His disciples and says,

"'Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?' he asked Peter. 'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.'" (Matt. 26:40-41 NIV)

I enjoy reading other translations and commentaries to get an over all feel of a passage. Here is the Message translation of verses 40-41:

"'Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don't wander into temptation without even knowing you're in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there's another part that's as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.'"

Further into the passage you see that the disciples fall back asleep again; two more times in fact. it seems absurd that they are sleeping during such an important time doesn't it? Yet they had no understanding of what was about to occur. Are they so different than we are today?

This part of the Message translation jumped out to me: "There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there's another part that's as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire."

Oh can I relate to that in both physical and Spiritual ways. A part of me is so eager to work out; another part would rather lay down by a fire. A part of me is so eager to grow and live life out loud Spiritually and yet there are times when I am found drifting off to sleep.

I pray that God will give me the strength and wisdom to gain strength gradually; to continue to press on each day so I will be able to find union between body and spirit. That I would be found awake; fighting the good fight when it counts.

Many Blessings!



Belinda said...

you can do just have to build yourself up.I too was VERY weak when I started the gym.I'll be praying for ya.

christy rose said...


I want to be found awake too. If we would just allow our spirit to lead us, we would have one completely disciplined person that the Holy Spirit would empower to live supernaturally.

This was wonderful!

I am expecting Daveda's hosting of her blogger appreciation to create some more time getting to know you and others.


Still Learning said...

Turbo Kick class? For a newbie? No wonder you were hurting. That class would keel over most beginners to the gym. Please don't feel bad. I used to be addicted practically to the gym. Ha ha. I recently started working out again and I love the Zumba class. I laugh the whole time.

Loved your post, spiritually speaking it is so frustrating when I am on such a good roll with my walk with God & then suddenly I realized somehow I had fallen asleep again. I always thought that passage was somewhat amusing too because lots of people say, including myself, that when they pray at night they fall asleep. I try to make a point to pray first thing in the a.m. I wonder why we do that? If ever there was a time to stay awake and pray it was in the garden with Jesus. It's a good lesson though that the disciples didn't beat themselves up about it though when they realized who Jesus was and they fulfilled their mission instead of dwelling on their mistakes.

Have a great holiday,


Janice said...

Good for you to start exercising. I too have been inspired to get my body in shape. I started this week to train for a 5K race. It has been so hard, but I am determined to make it happen. It feels so good to set goals and create a purpose for ourselves.

Sue said...

I am so with you on this! I have been forcing myself to walk every day and I dread it because I'm so out of shape I feel it in my old bones but I know I must push on. I get like that spiritually too sometimes and I need to push myself (in God's strength) to keep on keeping on.

Hope you are able to push through the pain and get the results you desire!

Daveda said...

Shanda, this is so good! I love thos passages of scripture because they encourage me in two ways 1) This helps me realize that we are all human as the disciples were, we are all weak (but He is strong!) 2) It reminds me that nothing can be accomplished through my own efforts (His yoke is easy and light, not hard, harsh, sharp or pressing) but, as the Spirit leads me, motivates me, and gives me desire, I can do all things!!

I am looking forward to "Blogger Appreciation Week" and I am sooo glad that you are participating!

jerriann said...

great post Shanda and great comments from your readers. I have never thought of this passage this way before, I think it is one of those I read over to fast but yes, sometimes I feel that sleepy feeling when I pray.

I was watching Joyce Meyers the other day and she said "prayer - short, simple, focus." That I can do. And as soon I think of someone, quickly I send up a prayer request for them but I must admit I miss the intense prayer times.

I guess God is calling me into deeper prayer time because I have said yes to being on a prayer team for a Walk to Emmaus. I said yes and then I panicked a little.

Yep, that would be God calling.

Michelle said...


You worded so many things I feel so perfectly! You can do this but listen to your body! You don't want to reinjure yourself and then you have to begin from scratch all over again!

Warren Baldwin said...

Hi. Linked here from Daveda's blog. You have a great site. I really like your marriage series. I read two of them. I have a blog called Family Fountain with articles for/about families. That is important for today's world. You are doing a good job with yours.

Anonymous said...

Amen Shanda! I can relate so much to this and I appreciate your honesty about falling asleep sometimes even when your heart is eager for the Lord. I have found myself dozing in my Bible before or being completely distracted during prayer time. Ugh! But God knows our hearts, and He will strengthen us.

But do be careful as you work out. Perhaps talk to the instructor and put in modifications where you need to until your core is strong.

Kingdom Mama said...

This really hits home!!

I just added you to my blogroll!;)

Kathryn said...

So powerful, Shanda! And such an important Truth. The enemy is constantly on alert for ways to discourage, destroy, and otherwise neutralize our Divinely appointed purpose in God's eternal kingdom plan. I continue to pray for all Christians to depend upon Him and to keep working through His power, authority, and strength ... for His good will, purpose, and pleasure.

PS-I'm impressed with your determination at the gym! The only physical exercise I have gotten in a long, long time is walking back and forth from the 2nd floor to the basement with a heavy laundry basket!