I have been working out at the Carpenter Center on a regular basis. There is a young man in my church named Cale Newman who is in great shape; jokingly I told him one day that I wish I was in as good of shape as he was. Well, that one comment that I made led into a deeper conversation and eventually he was kind of enough to offer to let me work out with him. He reminds me of Bob and Jillian from “The Biggest Loser”, he is a super nice guy but he will work you really hard and encourage you to meet your goals. He really wants me to succeed.
Now, I hadn’t lifted weights since I played high school football which feels like a long, long, long, long time ago! If you think about it, the idea of lifting weights seems like an odd concept. “You want me to do what to my body? Why would I intentionally hurt myself? That doesn’t make any sense.” But we all know that even though our bodies are initially torn up they rebuild themselves to become much stronger and tougher.
For athletes, in their games, especially away games, they often face taunting and criticism. At first it might be distracting, but once they have gone through it, they find that it has thickened their skin so that they can focus when it matters most. Every time I see a professional basketball player shooting a free throw at an away court with the fans in the background waving anything and everything they can, I always think, “They have to be distracted; they’re going to miss it.” Yet, most of the time, it goes in just as it would if they were alone in practice.
Spiritually, we often face similar persecution. Our friends, family members, teammates and colleagues may not understand why we believe what we do. They may tear us down for not going out with them or for going to church on Sunday morning instead of sleeping in, but we shouldn’t be discouraged by that. While these seemingly destructive acts may seem like they have no benefit at the time, in reality, they are strengthening us spiritually.
If you like to run, your lungs may burn after a series of sprints, you may be so worn out that you can only think, “That was too much.” But when it comes to a game situation, those sprints will have proven useful because they created strength and perseverance. Similarly, we will reach points in our faith when we feel like the world is crashing down on us and we’ll think, “This is too much. How could this ever be for my benefit?” Yet, afterward, we realize that in those times God was doing amazing work. Only when we’re broken can we be rebuilt stronger.
God bless and g cats!
Rev. Scott Murphy is the Pastor at the First Christian Church in Russellville.