I’ve often heard that elite athletes use visualization as a key component of their training. They visualize the result they are wishing to attain. A basketball player will visualize their shot swishing the net not even touching the rim. A hockey player might visualize the puck going bar down into the back of the net. I knew there was significant benefit from mental exercises, but I was extremely surprised when I read an article in Psychology Today that claimed you can even experience a muscle increase through mental exercise only.
“For instance, in his study on everyday people, Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared ‘people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads’. He found a 30% muscle increase in the group who went to the gym. However, the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5%). This average remained for 3 months following the mental training.”[i]
Key to all mental training is believing it will actually happen. A basketball player standing at the free throw line with a second left on the clock, has to believe her shot is going to go in. A track cyclist has to believe they can ride faster than they have ever gone before, and in fact faster than any other cyclist before them, if they want to set a new world record.
Today’s scripture is very similar. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). When people ask you what faith is, it is actually quite simple, it is believing something to be true even though you don’t see it today. I am sure that I am saved and that I will spend eternity in heaven. I am certain that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit exist even though I have not seen them face to face. I am certain that I will see them in heaven and that they have prepared a place in heaven for me.
I really appreciated the following description of faith from a GotQuestions.org article which involves something called intellectual assent and trust:
“Intellectual assent is believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that the something is true. A chair is often used to help illustrate this. Intellectual assent is recognizing that a chair is a chair and agreeing that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair.
Understanding these two aspects of faith is crucial. Many people believe certain facts about Jesus Christ. Many people will intellectually agree with the facts the Bible declares about Jesus. But knowing those facts to be true is not what the Bible means by “faith.” The biblical definition of faith requires intellectual assent to the facts and trust in the facts.”
How about you? Are you certain about the things I listed above regarding Jesus? Do you have faith? Your firm belief in Jesus affects how you conduct yourself. Do you function with confidence as you pursue the works God has prepared for you, or are you so riddled with doubt that you are ineffective for God’s work? Pray that God would help you have confidence in what you do not see and what you hope for.
[i] (Pschology Today, 2009) LeVan, AJ, December 3, 2009. Seeing is Believing: The Power of Visualization.