The idea of a personal trainer sometimes sounds really appealing to me. But when push comes to shove (and that’s what a personal trainer would do), I really don’t think I want one. Sometimes I like the idea of slacking.
This reality hit home last week. After taking two ten-day trips, and having a doozy of a cold in between those trips, I missed my fitness classes for almost a month. When I finally was able to return to class, I grabbed a spot in the back row, as far from the instructor as I could.
Even though she could see me in the mirror, she probably didn’t notice me sneak a knee while holding planks. Did she see that my squats were not as deep as they were in February? And weights… I made sure to get the same color light weights as the heavier ones so that neither she nor anyone else would notice.
OK, I slacked off a bit, but the next day my body hurt! From my shoulders to my knees I felt muscles I hadn’t felt in a month or more. Nevertheless, the pain felt kind of good. It was a constant reminder that my body was getting healthier.
I know that a one-on-one relationship with a personal trainer would probably whip me into shape more efficiently than just taking a class (and missing if I really don’t feel like going), but I rather like a group setting. It’s easier to be better than average in a group.
I don’t lift the heaviest weights, but I don’t use the lightest either. I may not be able to do everything but I can do somethings better than a few of the younger women in class. I have good form, I’m OK for my age, but the instructor is older than I am.
OK, maybe I like the class because there’s no one to push me to do more or go further except me. I know when I think I’ve met my limit in repetitions and in weights (or in what I feel like doing on a given day). I can say, “Stop.” whenever I want to.
However, a personal trainer would take the time to get to know me, to assess my weaknesses and strengths and my limitations. A trainer would devise a plan to work on the areas that need the most attention. I wouldn’t be able to hide and there would be no one with which to compare myself except the trainer. A trainer would know how far and how hard to push me.
Its a good thing God doesn’t have group classes when it comes to strengthening our spiritual muscles. God is a personal trainer for each one of us.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our weaknesses and our strengths. He knows our physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual limitations and he has a plan to work on those areas of personality and spirituality that need the most attention. We cannot hide from him. He knows our individual breaking points and he has provided the only plumb line against which we must compare ourselves: the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are times, just like at the fitness center, when I want to put down a knee; when I want to say, “Lord, you’re asking too much of me.” But it is in those times that God reminds me that I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
There are times when I think God is pushing me beyond my limits and I want to cry out, “Lord, I’m at my breaking point!” Then the Lord whispers to me, yes, you are under great pressure, far beyond your ability to endure, I know you are in despair, but this is so that you will rely on my, I am the one who raises the dead! I have delivered you, I will deliver you again (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).
There are times when I want to drop the load and say, “God, this is too much! I’m not strong enough to carry this.” And God comes alongside me and says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, (2 Corinthians 12:9).
When I want to throw in the towel and quit, when I think I’ll never become the person he is training me to be, God encourages me and tells me he is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 24).
My faith, and yours, must grow stronger. We must get to that place where we no longer rely on our feelings, or upon the need to experience God’s blessing in order to get through the stresses of life. We need strong faith muscles so that we can endure the difficulties of hard things and the drudgery of the day-to-day.
We will get to that place of strength as we apply everything that we are taught; trusting that with each step of faith God is strengthening us to take the next bigger step.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the peace of God will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
Building spiritual muscle is not easy, quick nor painless. However, the outcome is worth the input. What spiritual muscle is God working on in your life? Will you let him increase the weight? Will you do the reps? Will you heed the encouragement of your Trainer so that you grow stronger and are ready for the next set?