It was 5:43 p.m. in Haiti on a hot June afternoon, and Dr. Doug Harty was working on his final dental patient of the day. The appointment was taking more than an hour, and sweat beaded on the doctor’s forehead.
Plaque that had built up for more than 15 years on the patient’s teeth was much more difficult to address than the doctor’s six-month rotation of patients back in the states.
Harty is a dentist and travels to Haiti every year to provide dental care to children and adults who lack the resources to take regular care of their teeth, gums and mouth. Harty has a servant’s heart and embraces his calling as a believer and witness of Christ.
As I got to know Harty while growing up and being friends with his son, I learned quickly that the doctor values his own life and appreciates every opportunity God provides for him. I remember vividly visiting the dentist in the hospital after his liver transplant and again after he went into remission, twice. I remember him fighting for his life, winning it back and responding to the calling God laid on his heart as a servant for the Lord.
As you can imagine, post-liver transplant, physical fitness is an important, difficult and delicate aspect of Harty’s life. He needs to be as physically strong as he can in order to stay healthy, and he needs to be fit in order to capitalize on the extraordinary opportunities God lays before him.
We see a reminder of this in 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
There are many benefits to exercise: more energy, increased mental capacity, better rest and recovery, strength and more. Being in shape does not need any more evidence as a good idea. What may require more evidence for some is the connection between how one’s physical fitness plays a role in one’s spiritual wellness.
What does being in shape have to do with my relationship with God and ability to serve?
We are all instructed to honor our body as it is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Exercise is a missing ingredient to this recipe and allows us to take action with our relationship with God.
Once we are spiritually fit enough to understand how God is calling us to serve, the action needed to fulfill that calling is dependent on God’s temple. It is dependent on the shape of your spiritual, emotional and physical fitness.
When Harty is in the best shape he can be, he is prepared for the kingdom opportunities God brings his way. This is the same for all of us.
When God lays an opportunity in your lap to further his kingdom, are you prepared? Are you confident enough in your relationship with him to take action? Are you fit enough to take action? Would you be able go with Harty?
Columbus’ John Hayden, a local fitness instructor, is the creator of GODFIT operating in several churches and ministries locally. The program with the motto, “Fit for Christ, fit for life,” encourages people to better health to better serve others. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (317) 37-9369 or email@example.com or facebook.com/fitforchristfitforlife.