Cramping Up

“So Jacob named the place Peniel (which means ‘face of God’), explaining, ‘Certainly I have seen God face to face and have survived’ … but he was limping because of his hip.”  Genesis 32:30b-31 (NET & NLT)

I went for a run today. Part of the way through, my left calf started to cramp up. Dehydrated? Maybe.  Still recovering from a prior workout? Probably.  Should I slow down our walk it out a bit?  But if I constantly accommodate for every ache and pain, I’ll never getting stronger.  Should I push through it?  But what if it’s really injured, or if I end up really injuring it?  Then I’ll be out of commission for a longer period of time.

The Christian journey can be like that, can’t it?  How are we to interpret events or circumstances that come our way?  Is God telling me to slow down or change directions?  Should I read the circumstances as a cautionary flag?  Or maybe he is trying to build perseverance and endurance in my character?  Maybe I need to look to Him for strength to push through?  How do I know how to respond or react?

I ask Him.

I ask the God who knows every cell of my frame & who loves me beyond my wild imaginings.  I ask Him what I am to do.

Sometimes He tells me.  Other times I have to try, in faith, what seems to be good and true.  Sometimes His answer is in accordance with conventional wisdom and knowledge.  Other times, it is completely counterintuitive. Sometimes I never really know.

And sometimes it is simply because He wants me to walk with a limp — for reasons of His own.

And I trust Him.

Thirst

“I lift my hands to you in prayer.  I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain.”  Psalm 143:6 (NLT)
Water is an amazing thing.  An adult human is made up of at least 60% water, and every living cell in the human body needs water to keep functioning.  Without water, a person can only survive a few days.

Have you ever been thirsty?  I mean really thirsty?  Perhaps you’ve gone on a major hike or attended a spin class without your water bottle?  Or maybe you have run a long race and, after passing up one water station, eagerly anticipated the next one?  Or maybe you’ve been dehydrated while sick, with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth (that feels more like a cotton field)?

Or maybe you’ve seen an animal or a person who has been deprived of water for such a long time that they need that water like it’s their last breath?

Sometimes we need God like that.

Actually, we need God like that all the time … but we don’t feel the need for Him that acutely all the time.  (Kind of like with water ….)  At least that’s how it is with me.

But the older I get and the longer I go on this journey, the more I learn that it is God I truly thirst for.  From time to time, I turn other things that appear to offer refreshment or replenishment.  But it’s a mirage.  And I get frustrated, hurt and disappointed.  And, every time, I am reminded that it is only God that can satisfy my thirst.

To find my refreshment from God Himself — that is my true heart’s desire.  To thirst for Him — the God of heaven and earth — as a parched land thirsts for rain.  And to thirst for Him all the time.

So I have placed Psalm 143:6 and Psalm 42:2 around some of the major water sources in my home.  Particularly by the fridge in my gym.  Because I want to be reminded, especially in those moments when I am hot and tired and recognize my thirst, that it is God for whom I really thirst.

Whisper

“‘Go out and stand before  Me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him.  And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain.  It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a  fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire was the sound of a gentle whisper. ” 1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)

Much bravado is sometimes just that — much bravado.  A lot of wind, a lot of noise, a lot of disruption, but little real meaning and value.  The Lord is not in it.  Whether it’s bravado in words or gestures or even action, bravado is often a cover for little real substance.  The Lord is not in it.

The Lord desires for us to move past the bravado in all things.  The Lord speaks most often in a whisper.  Will you wait for it?

Life change rarely occurs with bravado.  It occurs instead with steady, quiet determination.  It’s not the person who makes the giant New Years Resolution or buys all the hottest & latest equipment that changes his life.  It’s the person who shows up at the gym everyday and gives what she has that day, & then shows up again tomorrow.  It’s the person who sees and celebrates his own small victories, changing even his internal dialogue.  It’s the person who sees past the bravado and listens for the whisper … and keeps listening for the whisper … the whisper of God drawing closer and deeper and more completely.

Exercise is my inner sanctuary, where I listen for the whisper of God.  His Spirit, my breath.  His voice, my hands.  His strength, my movement.  It’s where all the outer noise begins to dissipate, and I can focus better on the whisper.

The Lord desires for us to move past the bravado in all things.  The Lord speaks most often in a whisper.  Will you wait for it?