Finding Weakness

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

When I work with clients who want get stronger, I find that the first step is often to help them find specific muscles or muscle groups.  Whether it is the tricep, the glute or the transverse abdomimus, finding the proper muscle group must happen first.  This “finding” of the muscle occurs within your body and your mind … learning to identify it, isolate it and contract it.  And when we learn to isolate a muscle (or muscle group) from the surrounding muscles (or muscle groups), we can then learn to work it independently.  But often … upon “finding” the muscle … we find that the muscle is weak.

Finding the muscle usually means finding weakness.

But that is the first step.  Until we find the weakness, we cannot work on getting stronger.

Jesus tells us that His power is made perfect in our weakness.  And I believe His words are true.  Just like in our bodies, it is when we find out weaknesses that He can begin His work of transformation.  But we must find our weaknesses first.  And finding our weakness means identifying it and isolating it … accepting it, owning it and confessing it … and then giving it to Jesus.  Only when we find our weakness can we give it to Jesus to transform with His strength.

In a culture that shies away from any form of weakness, may this encourage you instead to find your weakness.  Find you weakness — identify it and isolate it — and submit it to the process.

For finding weakness is the beginning of strength.

Aging

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate … for He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” Psalm 103:13-14 (NLT)

Lately I’ve become aware of the effects of aging. Some personally, some within my family, some in other people’s families. But with aging, there seems to come a number of issues that involve our bodies (& sometimes our minds). Our bodies begin to age and weaken and become increasingly susceptible.

So how are we to treat our aging bodies?

The answer might sound familiar: the same way Jesus would. We should treat our aging bodies the same way Jesus would treat our aging bodies — with love, tenderness, compassion & understanding.

God’s mercies are new every day … & so should ours be … even to ourselves.

Instead of comparing yourself to what you used to be able to do (5, 10, 20 years ago!?), assess who and where you are today & start from there.  If you used to bench-press 80 pounds and can only bench-press 20 today, so what!? Bench-press the 20 today! (Or maybe even 10 until you really know you have the muscle stamina.)

Our bodies are not machines.  They are delicate pieces of craftsmanship created by God. Think of them as Stradivarius violins:  of great worth, able to pay beautiful music … but you must learn how to play & care for it properly.

And if you are aging, think of yourself a an aging Stradivarius violin: still of great worth & still able to play beautiful music … and needing a bit more tender-loving care.

Evolving

“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others.  Instead you need someone to teach you again the basics … like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. … Solid food is for the mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”  (Hebrews 5:12-14 NLT)

Here’s a truth:

the person you have been is not the person you will remain.  

The person you have been and the person you currently are — these are not the person you will be.  You will evolve (small “e”) — you will adapt and grow and change — perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse.  And the things that you habitually practice, whether consciously or unconsciously, will make all the difference.

This is true physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  We can train our bodies, for example, in ways that makes us stronger, more flexible, with greater functionality and with more endurance … or we can neglect our physical bodies and grow weaker, more stiff, less functional and with less endurance.  You choose.

And the same is true with our minds and hearts and souls.  We can incorporate practices that grow us toward who we want to be and who God wants us to be … or we can kick back and let the culture or those around us to shape and mold us as they see fit.  You choose.

So as we look toward the season of Birth … and the New Year ritual of rebirth … consider this:

The person you have been is not the person you will remain.  

This is both a challenge and a gift.  Accept and embrace both.

 

Into the Light

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”  Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

Have you ever noticed that when you get hurt or injured, one of the first things you do is bring your hurt part into the light to get a better look at it? Or if your kids get hurt, the first thing we often say is “come here, so I can take a look.” And the second thing (for me anyway) is “let’s move over here where the light is better so that I can see it more clearly.” When we or someone we love are physically hurt, we automatically want to look at the problem area in the light. Why? Because it is hard to see the problem clearly when we look at it in the dark.

And so maybe we should look at all our problems in the light.

Maybe we should bring every hurt, injury and problem we have into the Light so that we can see it more clearly from God’s point of view. Maybe that Paul means in his letter to the church in Philippi. Whatever problems, struggles, hurts or difficulties we may encounter, we will always see them more clearly for what they are (and are not) if we look at them in the Light of God’s Presence. And in the Light of God’s Presence, we can see from a vantage point that is far beyond our own.  In His Light, we can see from a perspective that is much broader and all-encompassing than our own.

 

It is this kind of perspective (or the lack thereof) that is part of the problem with the healthcare system in the U.S.  Every doctor sees only their part.  No one seems able to look at or treat the whole. No one has a perspective broader than their own. (And too few bring things into the perspective and Light of the Lord!)

Sh’maFit is on a journey to offer a health & fitness alternative that takes the broader view, that looks at the whole person, and that brings the whole person into the Light of God’s Presence.

What God has already done will astound you.  If you would like to explore joining our adventure, email shemafit@gmail.com.

Training Ground

The Lord is my strength and shield.  I trust Him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

Hard times are training opportunities.  Think of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, taken to another country, imprisoned etc. (See Genesis 37 ff).   What others intended for evil in his life, God used and intended for good.  (Genesis 50:20)  God used seemingly disastrous events to train, prepare, and place Joseph in the right place at the right time for the right reasons.  We all know the story … but when it happens to us, we have the chance to learn it for real and anew.

Challenging times are the perfect time to become acutely aware of and to grow our dependence on Him.  As one author says:  “Challenging times wake you up and amplify your awareness of needing My help.” Challenging times forge our character.  They also prepare the way to God to reveal His glory in greater ways.

So I’m in training (as are a few other sojourners with me).  And I embrace it.  I want to know deep dependence on God.  I want to trust in Him alone to save me.  I want to see His glory revealed in my life like I have never seen it before.  And so I train — listening, watching, waiting, working, responding, obeying, trusting, and moving in faith.

The Lord is the strength of my life!  Not anyone or anything else.  The Lord God Almighty is my strength and my song!  And with Him, I am victorious.  No matter what.

Training ground is holy ground … when we have Him to train us!

Forgetting

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13b-14 (NIV)

I love this verse. It’s one of my life verses. God so often speaks to me through it. And today is no different.

Today, He speaks about forgetting.

Forgetting the past. Forgetting what is behind.

I don’t think God means for us to totally forget.  At least, I don’t think He wants us to forget in the sense of losing the lesson. Our mistakes, after all, always hold potent lessons for us … and I think God wants us to remember and to learn the lessons our past can teach us. But He does want us to let them go. To bury them in the sea of His mercy. To let Jesus wash them away, as far as the east is from the west.

Competitive athletes learn to do this well. Competitive athletes learn to let go of mistakes so that they can focus on the present. Competitive athletes cannot perform well in the current play, for example, while still beating themselves up for the error they made in the prior play.  They have to learn quickly how to let it go — yet learning from it — and move onto the next play.

Or so I’m told. Not being a competitive athlete myself, I am told that’s how it is.  Personally, I have learned this lesson at a much later stage in life, and I’ve learned it best through yoga. Learning to be present and stay present in the current posture; letting go of the prior posture (whether I did it well or poorly) and staying present in the current one. Whether proud or regretful of the past, I am learning to let it go.  And to stay present with God in today’s moments.

So may we learn to forget as a competitive athlete.  Holding onto the lessons, releasing the rest into the sea of God’s mercy. Washed away by the blood of Jesus.  And pressing on toward what God has called us to do and to be.

To Heal

“This is the kind of fast I want.  I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke, to set free the oppressed, and to break every burdensome yoke.”  Isaiah 58:6  (NET)

Jesus came to heal, to set free, to redeem.  The heart of the Almighty is to heal, to grow, to set free, to redeem.  The Bible is emphatic that God is making all things new.

What’s cool to me is that our bodies were designed with the same objectives in mind.  God made our bodies with His eternal attributes in mind.  The bodies that God designed for us are, for example, designed to heal — they are able to heal themselves from wounds or injuries inflicted upon them.  The body, for example, is constantly renewing itself — the skin renewing itself every 28 days, liver every 5 months, bones every 10 years, etc.  God made our bodies in ways that reflect His amazing glory!  Even though imperfect and aging, they still constantly reflect some of the glory of the One who made them.

And, by and large, the body does this automatically.  Cells respond immediately to start forming blood clots, for example … to bring extra blood and nourishment to the injured area… to swell and protect the injury  … to being the healing process.  No arguments, no negotiating, no denial.  Just immediate action to heal and renew.

And thank God for that!  Because if the other aspects of our lives are any example, most of us would be totally out of commission due to innumerable accounts of denial and refusal to accept that we have been hurt.

To be healed means you first need to admit you are hurting.

To be renewed means you first need to accept that you need renewing.

To be set free means you first have to acknowledge that you are truly in captivity.

To be redeemed means you first believe that you need a Redeemer.

May we see more fully the inherent beauty of being healed and renewed such that we eagerly embrace our brokenness.  He IS making all things new.  Will you join Him in His work?