The WholyFit Book (CHAPTER 1)

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Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.  – James 5:14-15a 

 

JESUS DOES THE HEALING

“She’s having a panic attack, that’s all,” the Paramedic said. My worried husband didn’t seem to hear him.   After falling to the floor gasping for air, I lay on the couch now in my frumpiest pajamas as a young fireman adjusted the strap to the oxygen mask around my bedraggled, bed-headed hair. Six strapping strangers stood around the scene, staring silently with expressions of casual indifference. I didn’t know which was worse: to be feeling so embarrassed or the sensation that I was suffocating, trying to breathe through a tiny straw.

I believed their opinion about panic attacks for about a year, but after the attacks started interrupting my life on a regular basis, even when I was perfectly calm, I decided I was either crazy or this condition was physical. A good friend suggested going to an allergist. I wasn’t ready for what the Dr. had to say.

“Asthma? I can’t have asthma!”   I exclaimed to my Doctor. “You don’t understand. I’m an aerobics instructor. I work out 3 hours a day,” I said. My doctor simply had to be wrong but my pleadings did not make her repent of her diagnosis. I would have rather believed the paramedics. At least panic attacks seemed less permanent. She explained that my fit condition was apparently not enough to protect me from the smog of Los Angeles and its devastating effects on my body. Furthermore, there seemed to be nothing anyone could do to cure the cascade of crippling diseases that had taken up residence within.

Though only 30 something, I gave up in defeat when the immune-related issues like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis had stolen my fitness and forced me to quit teaching the group exercise classes that were such an important part of my life.

The simplest tasks now were challenging. I couldn’t raise my arm high enough to brush my hair due to joint damage in the shoulder from the reactive arthritis attacks that had “eaten” some of the connective tissue. Whenever I got bronchitis, which was repetitive, my immune system would react by attacking my connective tissue.

I remember during one episode of reactive arthritis, walking down the stairs became quite precarious because my hips were frozen with joint pain. In a crippled position, I went to the car, but could hardly turn the steering wheel, driving to the doctor’s office during this particularly painful attack that had encompassed my whole body – even my eye balls. When I finally stepped into the doctor’s office, two women stopped their conversation abruptly, staring at my bent, tortured posture and said much too loudly, “Oh! Sheeeee’s got arth ar ay dis!” Nodding and smiling on the outside my thoughts were saying sarcastically, “Thanks so much for noticing.”

My adult son now says, in retrospect that he sometimes wondered what it would be like to have a “normal” mother. It was embarrassing to have chronic fatigue because I wondered if people believed me when I said that I had Epstein Barre Virus or if they really thought I was just fat and lazy. It felt like I had social leprosy.

As a personal trainer I understood that I needed to be exercising, but the chronic illnesses limited activity and besides, I didn’t feel like it! I was tired all the time and on top of that the frustration and fatigue turned into clinical depression, arresting my drive to work out even more.

If only my church had a ministry outreach for depression…but on second thought, I wouldn’t have gone anyway because I was too depressed! Depression is such a tough thing to get out of and carries guilt and shame with it. One hundred and ninety eight pounds later, in a high-risk pregnancy and on doctor ordered bed rest, I knew this weight was not going to come off easily.

 

Fresh Air, Fresh Ideas

 

I prayed to get out of the smog and God answered with a job transfer for my husband. Moving out of the smog and beginning a regimen of allergy shots helped, but still the chronic fatigue lingered. At my new church, Johnson Ferry Baptist, I was a sick, overweight, discouraged 40 year old. Walking down the hall of my new church, I glanced at my choir member ID picture on the wall. Gaping in disbelief at the picture of a worn, prematurely aged woman with chipmunk cheeks, I thought, “No. That’s not me!” My identity had been firebombed. I was not the same person who had once competed in the Crystal Lite Aerobic Nationals.

 

Jesus Does the Healing

God’s Word became my only hope and comfort. One day in church, I read James 5:14-16, “Is there anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick….”  The words came alive to me and suddenly I believed that they were true – for me – RIGHT NOW.

 

I asked the Lord if He would please get the elders of the church to pray for me even though I had never seen “laying on of hands” type of ministry happening at this Baptist church before. The following Sunday my mouth literally dropped wide open when from the pulpit, Pastor Bryant said, “You know we don’t normally do this, but I have felt impressed by the Holy Sprit to hold a healing service Sunday night.” This was a huge church with thousands of people and God heard my little prayer! (Why is it we are so surprised when God answers our prayers?) Jesus was going to touch me.

 

I was one of the first people to get there that Sunday night. When I walked through the doors I felt the sensation of a warm blanket around me and a peace that was incredible. There was no mistaking a very special and close supernatural presence of the Lord Almighty. My natural body’s response to His awesome presence was the outpouring of tears from my eyes, not in sobs, but in something like streams of water pouring from an endless source.   I have since come to experience this at other times and now and I’ve nick-named it “Holy Spirit tears”.

 

The pastor asked me what I suffered from and was very compassionate to say that he was sorry that I had to deal with Epstein Barre Virus. His empathy was incredibly comforting in and of itself. Then he said something I’ll never forget. He said, “I am going to pray for you and if you get well, I want you to understand that it had nothing to do with me. Jesus is the One who does the healing.”   Then he laid hands on me, anointed me with oil and prayed a simple prayer for healing in the Name of Jesus.

 

Jesus is the One who does the healing.

 

From that night on, I underwent a process of gradual supernatural healing until I was well enough to start teaching fitness classes at that very church, sharing my story freely with the participants. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, chronic illness was the training that God used to reveal a mission He had planned for me: to administer His healing through exercise, His Word and prayer.

 

This was the beginning of WholyFit. It has turned out to be the most effective and powerful exercise system I have ever used and yet it is gentle and nourishing. I’ve learned now that fitness must be a pursuit that involves who we are as a whole person: body, mind and spirit. As you meditate on Scripture during exercise, you actually build your body with the Word of God, hope, life and peace. WholyFit Devotional Exercise: Fitness for the Whole You! I learned that TO BE AN OVERCOMER I need to let my weakness be God’s opportunity.

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