Feeling Strong

There’s a quote from Into the Wild, the story of Christopher McCandless that I really like:

“It is important in life not to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once. If you want something in life, reach out and grab it.”

I’ve watched the Crossfit “phenomenon” for quite a while over the last years. The first Crossfitter I met was a guy from a men’s retreat I went to whose story would knock your socks off (even if you’re wearing those knee-high’s they so often wear at a Crossfit “box”). As I watched him and others talk of the community they’d found in it, I related that to my own experience of community at the Daily Audio Bible.

crossfit unbreakableI’ve tried to accomplish many things alone in life, and one that has never worked well for me is growing in strength – not just the ability to lift more weight today than I did yesterday, but knowing my limits, pushing them, setting goals, and growing. Frankly, it’s been frustrating for years.

What I did today is no magic bullet, and it may not even be a good fit for me after the month and a half I signed on for, who knows. But what I did do is do something I’ve wanted in life – I joined a community of people set on finding their limits, pushing through them, and doing all of that, together.

My arms and chest ache tonight, and when my friend Keith texted me asking if he’d see me again tomorrow, I could think of quite a few reasons to rest up for a day… but I could think of even MORE reasons to simply show up again, because not only did I have a blast, but even this first day, I did things I didn’t know I could.

A Prayer about Pain

This prayer comes from a book I’m reading right now – . This is the prayer following a chapter about dealing with those painful emotions – grief, anger, loss, and pain. It’s been quite timely for me. I have work to do in these areas.

Lord Jesus, when I think about my losses,it can feel like I have no skin to protect me. I feel raw, scraped to the bone. I don’t know why you have allowed such pain. Looking at Job helps, but I must admit I struggle to see “something new birthed out of the old.” Lord, grant me the courage to feel, to pay attention, and then to wait on you. You know that everything in me resists limits, humility, and the cross. So I invite you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to make your home in me as you describe in John 14:23, to freely roam and fill every crevice i my life. And may the prayer of Job, finally, be mine: “My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Purpose in the Pain

Today in my Bible reading time I ran once again across Jeremiah 29. There’s a verse in this chapter that is quoted time and time again as a promise to those in pain:

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

The thing is, if you read this verse in light of the rest of chapters 28 and 29, the way it’s used in our Christian circles goes out the window. I wrote about this a while back after reading a book called Run with the Horses. God isn’t offering this promise just to console the people. He’s not telling them, “sit back and wait it out – I’ll rescue you soon.” In Jeremiah 28, a false prophet is PUT TO DEATH for offering a false hope that within a short while the nation would be rescued. Then, in Jeremiah 29, the direct context of this promise, God (through Jeremiah) directs the people to settle down in their exile, to go about life, to even pray for those who have taken them captive.

Most if not all of the generation Jeremiah is writing to will likely not see their redemption, for it is many years in the future. But they can prepare their children for it. They can pass along the promise of the Lord, they can continue living lives set apart to Him in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. They can pass along not only what God has promised to DO, but the very essense of WHO GOD IS, because all too often that’s what gets lost in times of disappointment and sorrow.

Let us not “forget to remember.” Let’s ensure that we’re retelling the story, no matter what our current circumstance, to those that follow us, and to ourselves. For it is in that remembering, that recounting, that reliving, that the truth of God’s promises is revealed, and his lovingkindness is truly shown to be everlasting.