My kids were dubious, but the truth is that any activity we do can be an act of worship.
As my kids have gotten older, it’s become more important to me to help them learn that their bodies and souls are not separate. It can be so tempting to think of our souls as something distinct from our physical selves, but the reality is they’re inextricably intertwined. So moving our bodies doesn’t just keep them healthy, it keeps our souls healthy as well — and it can actually be a way to praise God.
When I told my kids this, they were dubious. So I gave them actual, real-life examples of athleticism as an act of worship. Since my kids have the attention spans of goldfish, though, I did so in a a quick, itemized format. And since this is the internet, I’ll keep that format and share it with y’all.
Of course, I’ll start with the one that comes immediately to mind: running, particularly the running of Eric Liddell, the Olympic sprinter made famous by the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. The most famous quote from the movie is when Liddell says he feels God’s pleasure when he runs, but my favorite quote is this one: “The secret to my success over the 400m is that I run the first 200m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200m, with God’s help I run faster.” This is a great quote to help all of us, adults and kids alike, get beyond the mental block when exercise gets hard. Just put it in God’s hands, and remind yourself that He created you to do this.
I could give you any number of Bible verses that talk about dancing in praise of the Lord, but I bet you’ve read them already. Instead, keeping in mind the idea of the body and soul being one, I’d rather give you this quote by Ruth St. Denis, one of the founders of modern dance: “I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words.”
Whether it takes place in the strictures of a ballet studio or the freedom of your kitchen, there’s something about dance that unites our bodies and souls in a way few other movements can. For you, that might mean it’s time to finally take that ballroom dancing class you’ve been talking about. For me, it means embracing my signature move — the water sprinkler — no matter how much it embarrasses my kids.
This is my favorite one, because it can — and should — easily encompass literally every physical activity. For runners, running is the way they play. It’s what gives them joy. Same for dancers, or soccer players, or Ninja warriors — and it’s the same for you, whether you spend your Saturdays riding a bike or enjoying an evening constitutional.
Whatever form of activity you or your family choose, always remember that it’s a form of play. It can be an expression of gratitude to God for our bodies and what they’re capable of. If that’s the way you think of any activity, it’s already a form of worship.