Build On The Pain

The screams were deafening. The shredding of human tissue insufferable. Body parts washed in lactic acid produced a symphony of sharp, burning pain.

And this was just my biceps.

If there is anything that merits the title of grueling, starting a new exercise regiment at the gym after a few years decade hiatus is one of them. Still, that’s where I find myself this week as my wife and I bit the bullet and signed up for membership at the Health & Wellness Center at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.

I know what you’re thinking. A gym at the hospital? I was a bit skeptical at first, too, but the facility is state of the art, and the staff has been nothing short of exceptional. Besides, I’m glad I’m in the same physical structure as an ER just in case I go crazy and push myself too hard.

But the moral of this story is starting over. I will admit it’s been easier, psychologically speaking, mostly because I’m on a bit of a ‘new thing’ high. Lee and I have been waking up early to make 5:30 AM classes (Body Flow kicked my butt, BTW), and we’re motivating each other to start every morning with a fitness routine. But the toll on my body has been tough. Aches, pains, soreness; I know they’re all good and normal for someone like me starting out again, but I look forward to the day months from now when I laugh at myself for having been such a wimp.

Muscle Homer

It turns out that as I kicked off this workout week, my friend Rick Christensen wrote an excellent blog post titled Spiritual Bench Press. It got me to thinking about my recent faith journey, and how five years ago I was a spiritual couch potato in need of working on my faith. Although I always revert to my caveat, “I didn’t have a crisis of faith so much as a crisis of church,” I was very much failing to act like a Christian.

But just as I hope to do so with my physical fitness, I am able to look back now and see how far I’ve come in my spiritual journey. I can see how much stronger I am as a Christ follower, working out my soul by reading the Word and acting on His behalf. I’m not perfect, far from it. I struggle daily with the pitfalls and temptations of life. But I am very proud to see I’m closer to where I want to be than I was this time five short years ago.

And it’s not a destination you reach. It’s a lifelong journey of lifting the weight of your burdens and placing them at God’s feet. It’s a perennial run away from the enemy and towards the light He had provided for us. It’s feeding on the nutrition found in the Bible, the words of life that nourish us from day to day.

The best part is there’s no soreness to deal with or fatigue after a good spiritual workout (i.e. doing good for others). Instead, it’s a feeling of reward that can only be described as exhilarating.

I may never reach my goal weight. My BMI may remain plotted on the ‘unhealthy’ side of the chart. I may forever struggle to do curls with 20 lb dumbbells (seriously …. my upper body strength is so lame), but as long as I keep my spiritual wellness at the top of my priority list, I know I’ll be fine. Besides, God doesn’t care if His soldiers are a little soft around the edges.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Friendly Friday – Rick Christensen

It’s a known fact. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In life, the chapters we write often occur as we travel between differing points in our lives. Some journeys are shorter than others, almost none of them a proverbial straight line.

I often refer to my belief in God as my faith journey. I have set out to walk in faith toward Him, every day hoping to be or do a little better than the day before. Sometimes my faith journey finds me on my own in a dialogue with God. Other times, it’s a walk shared with others, be it through church, charity events, or just simple fellowship.

Lee and I attend meetings of a writer’s group once a month. Brandon Christian Writers has been a wonderful experience for both of us as it’s energized our writing and creative thinking process. It has also introduced us to so many wonderful and talented people, and I would like to take a moment to introduce one of them to you.

Rick Christensen is a dear friend whom I’ve come to know through both his writing as well as our conversations. Although we’re at different stages in our lives, we’ve shared similar paths. We talk about how we’re both on our faith journey, oftentimes apparently walking side by side as we talk about the struggles and challenges we face every day. We both have a love for writing, as well as a desire to grow towards Christ.

This is very evident in Rick’s writing. His words and tone have a delicateness to them, and they are such a joy to consume. Rick calls it gentle witnessing when he shares in his blog Discovering and Sharing Grace his daily experiences with regards to his relationship with God. What I love most about Rick’s writing is that it’s never preacher or verbose. Rather, it’s open and honest stories, metaphors, and anecdotes that tell how he connects with God every day.

Rick has compiled his work into a book, and he was also recently featured in the Tampa Tribune. I hope you take a moment to check out his blog and his book. After all, who doesn’t want a little more grace in their life?

“Walk with the wise and become wise.” – Proverbs 13:20

Rick Christensen