Do you have certain things you say that just roll off the tongue because you’ve said them so many times? Like answering “fine” when someone asks “how are you?”, or when you respond with a quick “God bless you” when someone nearby sneezes? These automatic replies come naturally due to repetition, and I often say them without really thinking about it. I may or may not actually be fine, and I may indeed want God to bless my neighbor who has a cold or allergies, but it’s the reply that comes out more often than not simply because it’s a repetitive and acceptable response.
I have just returned from an amazing trip to Zimbabwe, Africa, where I had the opportunity to serve Body & Soul Fitness at Africa’s 25th anniversary of ministry there. It was a time of reconnecting with long-distance friends, making new friends, participating in fitness classes, and seeing beautiful sites vastly different than the ones in my neighborhood.
I often tell others that I’m grateful that God is everywhere. I’m grateful that He can watch over my loved ones no matter how far away from me they live, and I’m thankful that He takes care of my daughter when she’s away at college where I can’t just pop in if she needs me.
Experiencing the fellowship and the classes in Africa reminded me that God is truly everywhere. He is present in the classes I teach in the US, and He is certainly present in Body & Soul classes in Africa and all over the planet. God is being praised in cardio classes and strength classes around the world, and class members are connecting and supporting one another through prayer and fellowship as fitness classes are taking place.
I found myself feeling at home in a faraway land because the same ministry that happens here in the US is happening in Africa and elsewhere, as the same God is being pursued and praised. Each of us may have different interests, varied talents and gifts, live in separate parts of this great big world, and even look and sound different, but we are created by the same God who loves us and gives us opportunities to honor Him as we serve and fellowship with one another. I see this in my US classes and I’ve seen this in international classes, and this brings me great joy!
Therefore, I will continue to tell others (and remind myself) that God is indeed everywhere, no matter how far we travel from our homes. I hope this encourages you as it has encouraged me. To me, it makes this world feel a little bit smaller, making friends old and new not seem so far away.
I miss my African friends today, but I know God is watching over them and caring for them on the other side of the planet – and I am grateful! And if you sneeze near me, I will respond with a heartfelt and sincere “God bless you”.
Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.