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Rethinking my dislike for treadmills

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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treadmill
© tawatchai1990/stock.adobe.com

I had to walk this morning on the treadmill in our garage. 

I didn’t want to do this. 

I had to do this. 

Walking every morning is essential for my back condition and, even more, for my soul. I love to be outdoors when the sun comes up. Our neighborhood is blessed with abundant trees and foliage and even with a creek running near an historic cemetery containing the remains of Civil War veterans. I look forward every morning to walking in such a beautiful environment. 

By contrast, our treadmill is pushed up against the garage wall and surrounded by boxes and other garage clutter. There is nothing remotely beautiful to see. The torrential rainstorm that swept through Dallas this morning necessitated this unattractive activity. As soon as my miles were done, I was done. 

There is something about nature that calls to our souls. 

Study after study documents that walking or otherwise experiencing the natural world is good for our mental and physical health. Even though we live in a fallen world (Romans 8:22), God’s creation retains enough of the Creator’s fingerprints that we are drawn closer to him through what he has made. 

Just as we feel closer to an artist by viewing her artwork or a composer by listening to his music, we feel closer to God when we are in God’s creation. 

And yet, my treadmill serves a function I should not depreciate as I have. It enabled me to get in an essential workout without being drenched by a thunderstorm. It will doubtless be useful when the deep cold of winter strikes (which in Dallas happens seldom but can be significant, as we discovered last February). Rather than ask the treadmill to be what it is not (naturally beautiful), I should be grateful for what it is. 

It seems to me that we should treat ourselves the same way. I wish I had the voice of James Earl Jones or the mind of C. S. Lewis. But I have what God made for me to have. It must have been good enough for me to fulfill his plan for my life or he wouldn’t have made that plan for my life. 

The same is true for you. 

Our consumeristic culture wants us to constantly seek more possessions, performance, and popularity because that is how it motivates us to keep consuming what it produces. While we should never stop growing (cf. 2 Peter 3:18), we should also “be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). 

And with who you are. 

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us (St. Augustine). 

That includes you.