Just got back from the gym. Haven’t even had a shower yet, but I had to sit down with this one because … well, because it’s been on my heart a bit and I don’t want to walk around with this message inside of me any longer. I think it’s really important for the church.
I’ve been going to this gym for four or five weeks now. Carved a place for it into my morning by getting up an hour earlier, which I absolutely love. It’s the second-best way to start a day – the first is tea and Jesus.
Anyway, the first week or two going, it was really busy in the morning. There’s this loner girl who goes and lifts by herself. A few guys in there rocking out to their Bluetooth earbuds, oblivious to the world. They stand in front of a very long mirror and watch themselves lift weights. It looks like maybe it takes a lot of concentration. I saw this one group of three guys and one girl challenging each other to lift heavy one day, but I haven’t seen them since. Then there’s the water-cooler-guys. They come in and talk to each other and hardly lift anything. I don’t really blame them, though, because although I do get my sweat on each time I go, I’m really paying just to hang out with my mom and sister. It’s good fellowship time that we didn’t have before.
The second Saturday, we were going to go to Zumba in the morning but it was canceled because the gym was hosting a Strongman competition. I didn’t go, but apparently it’s a competition for really muscular people. They get together and try to outdo each other with different weights and lifts. Sounds agonizing.
The Monday after this competition, it was dead in the gym. We had to turn the lights on that morning. No one showed up while we were there. Or the Tuesday after. Or even Wednesday. Now, I know that when completing a marathon, you are encouraged to rest for several days after, because you have pushed your muscles to the limit and you don’t want to risk hurting yourself. But it’s been three weeks since the competition and most of these people have not returned to a regular program of morning work-outs. Loner girl comes in faithfully Monday through Friday still. I’ve seen water-cooler-guys twice in three weeks, and one muscular guy with Bluetooth earbuds comes sporadically throughout the week. For the most part, it’s been crickets at the gym.
I feel it’s kinda like ministry. You know, everyone prepares when something is going down. We get all hyped up to show what we’re made of. Super ready to show that we’ve got what it takes, measure ourselves against others in the ministry, and let others see the effects of our time in the Word. We are confident this is what we were made for, and we’ve been preparing these muscles for the Big Day. But when the spotlight fades, we sleep in again. We don’t dig into our words to know God so much as we dig to get fit for the competition. When the competition is over, we slack off in our discipline because we have reached our goal in it. We see that temporary finish line. The conference is over, the crowds have gone home and the necessity to stay sharpened is seemingly removed.
Here’s the thing: it’s okay to take a break. In fact, it’s necessary. None but Jesus can stay at 100% all the time. Put it all down and watch a ball game with your family. Sleep in on Saturday and have your tea with Jesus in the evening. Take a hiatus from the daily grind of ministry and relax for a day. A month. A year. Whatever you need. But don’t get lazy, because life is not a Strongman competition. We aren’t training for those moments, we should be living in them daily. There are opportunities all around us to pour out what God is putting into us, and if we do it in our own strength, we’re going to poop out fast and we’re going to get disheartened and quit. We have to start getting into our Word and praying daily as a matter of discipline to prepare for whatever comes, not for a Strongman competition. God often allows others to be in need around us when we feel the least adequate. Then we have to rely on Him. But if we’re in the Word and in constant contact with His Holy Spirit, it flows.
Listen, friend, you are a strongman. All that God has called you to do, He will put inside of you. You don’t have to work it up or study hard like the test is tomorrow. Just be with Him. He recalls scripture to mind when you need to speak it, and He gives the Word that heals, restores and leads to salvation. You are filled with the Holy Spirit to do the work God predestined you for and you are capable because the Holy Spirit is capable. It’s not all on you and you don’t have to prove anything. You just have to stay in intimate contact with the Lord through His Word and through prayer. Then you will be ready, whether the work looks like a worldwide revolution or rubbing the tingling feet of a loved one in a nursing home. Our first mistake may be thinking one is ministry and the other is not. There are opportunities all around us to do the work of God. Let’s not treat ministry like a once-in-a-lifetime and start seeing it for what it is: Life.