I enjoy exercise, especially running, jogging, walking, and hiking. I enjoy the early morning jogs that allow me to listen to birds singing, to watch the sun paint the sky, and to take time to talk to God and give Him thanks for all He gives me daily.
One morning after I had finished a run, one of my sons came and said very seriously: “Dad, can I ask you a question?” Any parent who has heard such a request knows how it can strike fear into your mind as you brace for your children to inquire about some mystery of life like the “birds and the bees” or other such curiosities. I nodded indicating he could proceed, and he then asked: “Dad, do you like to run?” I breathed an inward sigh of relief and then gladly exclaimed: “Yes, I enjoy it very much, why do you ask?” He then said dismissively: “It doesn’t look like it!” I pressed him for an explanation and he told me he had observed my “runner’s face” as I went past the driveway earlier.
If you are a runner, you know what I am talking about, but in case you don’t, allow me to explain. “Runner’s face” is a term that is used by some to describe the loss of fat tissue, greater skin laxity, and the deepening of wrinkles many regard as a negative side-effect caused by regular running. However, my son was not referencing this physical phenomenon. Instead, he was wondering why I looked like I was ready to punch someone and simultaneously appear as if I were ready to cry each time my foot hit the pavement. Again, my running friends will easily understand what I am describing. I was not in any pain, but I was simply physically exerting my body in such a way to produce this unappealing expression.
Now, what does any of this have to do with serving the Lord or living the Christian life? I am glad you asked. As followers of Jesus who live in the world and interact with people daily, does it look like we are servants of the Lord? Are we people who carry a countenance of joy and peace or do we always seem sour and crabby to those around us? Do we exhibit an attitude of gratitude and contentment no matter how little we may have, or are we constantly complaining about others who have more and how we are being cheated or deprived of what we deserve? One preacher rightly chastised that many Christians sadly resemble Mr. Ed – the talking horse who had a TV show on CBS in the 1960’s by the same name: LONG IN THE FACE!
A tragic illustration I read several years ago reported about a note that Dr. Jerome Motto found in the apartment of a young man who had jumped to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge. It read: “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.” Apparently, no one smiled at him on that fateful day, or if they did, he ignored them.
It is not likely that our facial expressions will have the same bearing as the one cited in the above paragraph, but this is not to suggest they are unimportant. A simple smile or a kind word might make a difference in the life of someone you meet, or even more amazing to contemplate, it might make a difference in their eternity.
God wants us to be happy, kind, loving, and joyful people. If you doubt this, read John 10:10, Philippians 4:4-5, I Thessalonians 5:16, and the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. They are all qualities people should be able to see in our lives, demeanor, and personality.
When you exercise it may be difficult for those who observe your visage to conclude you are enjoying the activity but let it never be said that others cannot see your joy in living for Jesus your Savior each day!