Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Training to Qualify

The continuing saga............

So, twice a week I go to the gym and meet with a personal trainer. He's a young guy - young enough to be my son - sweet and very encouraging - he's good at his job. He cheers me on, high-fives when I do good, but pushes me to go just a little farther each time we meet.

He is helping me to strengthen my body so I can walk (run, race?) into my golden years with an advantage - the advantage of having a body tuned to be the best it can be at this stage of life.

It's hard work - my IT band is still giving me some trouble and muscles that have not been exercised regularly are loudly complaining. And while I am no fan of all of this, I know it is beneficial to me in the long run. Some times that fact helps me to keep my eye on the prize, other times - like when I've been rowing for 7 minutes and my biceps are screaming so loud everyone in the gym is looking at me - not so much!! It's not pretty!

But I'm learning that I can not expect my body to respond to activity the same way it did 30, 20, even 10 years ago. It's older. I'm not as active as I used to be. I'm not as flexible as I used to be. My stamina has decreased over time. These are all signs of the aging process I not only need to accept, but I also have to make provision for. I have to stretch my muscles, challenge them and keep them flexible, so they will respond favorably to all types of activity.  That old phrase, "Use it or lose it." really does apply to my muscles at this stage of the game.

I take all of this very seriously because I value my independence and freedom and want to be able to take it with me into old age. I want to be as active as I can for as long as I can.

So, while all this is happening in my physical life, the application to my spiritual life is not lost to me. My life has taken a very different direction spiritually in recent months. A direction I had not anticipated and I've found myself having to exercise spiritual muscles that have not been used much in the past.

I'm at a place I've never been before and these muscles have not been "exercised by use" (Hebrews 5:14).  I've never fought these enemies before. This place I've been asked to walk is all so new to me. I'm groping as in the dark here. But here, too, I have a personal trainer. My "personal trainer" - the Holy Spirit - is teaching and training me and this, too, is hard work. As much as I dislike the effort I have to put into physical exercise, I find I'm not a big fan of this spiritual training either. I complain -

I'm old, I want to retire and rest.
I want to sit out these days in my rocking chair, enjoying the goodness of the Lord.
I want to check out from rigorous daily activity.

I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend everything is just fine.

Today I'm "celebrating" my birthday - 66 years old. I'm tired and the only kind of therapy I want is beach therapy, NOT physical therapy!!

Haven't I paid my dues?
Aren't I entitled to stay out of the race and watch others and cheer them on as they run??

But, just like I couldn't ignore the pain of my injured IT band, I can't ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit.

I'm kicking and screaming my way to the gym and I'm kicking and screaming my way to the Holy Spirit's training camp.

My personal trainer at the gym says things to me, like -

   "Let's go play on the rowing machine."
   "Lean into and enjoy that stretch."

I said to him, "Do you know what I like the most about exercise?" and he says, "Let me guess - when it's done?"  In just a short time, he's gotten to know me pretty well!!

My other trainer, the Holy Spirit says to me, "I will teach you. I will lead you. I will give you the power you need for I live within you. I will show you all you need to know when you need to know it. I will strengthen you. I will give you revelation and I will give you grace to walk in and through the revelation." (John 14:16-26, Acts 1:8)

And I say, "Can't you just wave a magic wand?" I want the "quick fix." I want instant results. But, really, what benefit would that be to me? I know I wouldn't learn, grow and be strengthened if there was a "quick fix," but I can't help wanting it anyway.

Fact is, we never "retire" from God's Army. I know that and I know God will give me rest when I most need it, but I can't help but want a life of ease anyway. It's the nature of the beast!! We always want what's not the best for us.

I don't want to see what I see in the Spirit. I don't want to know what the Spirit tells me. Because once I see and know, I have to act.

Thank God, He knows what's best for me and He gently but firmly, by way of Holy Spirit, leads and guides me to it.

So, I need to trust the Holy Spirit within me as I trust my personal trainer at the gym. They are both working for my better good. They know what I need, especially when I don't even know what I need. And I need to take this training just as seriously as I take the physical training, because I do want to finish my days in service to the Lord. There will come a day that I will want to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Training is an intense time, but it's for a purpose. So I press on. I drag myself out of bed and go to the gym to "beat my body and bring it into subjection." I press on in prayer with the Lord and allow Holy Spirit to teach and train me for the work ahead.

So, this seems to be where my life is right now. I'm limping along training to qualify to even be in the race!!

"But the anointing which ye have received of him abides in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, ye shall abide in him."  1 John 2:27

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