Have you ever heard of a Kinesthetic Christian? Neither had I, until Wendy LeBolt sent me a copy of her book to review. Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies is LeBolt’s guide to loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength – without making half of them metaphorical. An expert in cardiovascular physiology and exercise science, she really wants the reader to put her heart’s amazing pumping abilities, and the strength of his limbs as well as their will, to work at loving God.
The result is a 7-week program that seeks to reconnect body, soul, strength, and spirit with the life of loving God – with prayer. It isn’t an exercise program, although it is clearly the author’s hope that some extra physical activity and ease will come from it. Despite the title, it uses more than the movement of the body, prescribing exercises in listening, breathing, fasting, and forgiving, as well as the heart-healthy and strengthening activities one might expect from the title. In fact, the range of activities and engagements is quite remarkable.
Videos online, a leader’s guide, a guide to playing through the program with children, all enhance the use of the book, which offers varying levels of engagement, for example offering different levels of activity and plenty of modifications, so that most users will find a way to participate most, if not all of the time. As someone who has use of four of the five traditional senses, I appreciate the care LeBolt has taken to include different bodies’ abilities at various points in the program.
Throughout the book, LeBolt keeps the reader connected to scripture and prayer, grounding each of the themes and its exercises in biblical readings, and ending each section with a prayer. This endeavor, she indicates, is not about tending the temples of our bodies for their own sake. It is part and parcel of the work of loving God with all that we’ve got.
Perhaps the best explanation of what LeBolt means by kinesthetic Christianity comes in a section devoted to Thomas, often called the doubter, who refuses to believe that his fellow disciples have seen the risen Christ until he sees – and touches – Jesus for himself. LeBolt rechristens Thomas “the patriarch of kinesthetic Christians!” She explains,
When the risen Christ is revealed to us, the full power of the Resurrection is released in us. Our Lord doesn’t just lay claim to our spiritual nature, but to our physical nature as well: heart, soul, mind, and strength! It’s no wonder Jesus says to love God with each of these. (See Matthew 22:37) We need our entire selves to love God fully. Kinesthetic Christians need more than hearsay; we need to get physical. We need to go, do, and see for ourselves.
I was drawn, though, to the simple conclusion she draws from the story of Peter stepping out on to the waters of the Sea of Galilee, impetuous and floundering:
Love is more than an emotion; it sets us in motion.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going for a prayer walk.
Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies, by Wendy LeBolt, is available from Upper Room Books in print and electronic formats, and your usual book retailers.