A friend shows up at my house yesterday clearly ready to workout. Wearing a ratty, old American flag t-shirt, he carries in one hand what would prove to be a harbinger of pain to come, a 45 lb. kettlebell. Both he and his wife are well-versed in health, exercise, and the human body, and so I thought it would be helpful to have him over to lay out some fresh ideas for my morning routine.
Now, exercise is not completely new to me. Having played competitive sports, lifted, and done some level of training, I anticipated being competent, to a certain degree. It did not take long for me to realize how wrong I was.
Let me share with you what I felt over the next 40 minutes.
To the core (pun intended) I felt inadequate. I was working muscles and ligaments in ways that I had never before. I was forced to change how I approached exercises I had been doing for years because of incorrect mechanics. And this made me feel weak. I said frequently in my mind, and sometimes out loud, “I don’t know if I can do that”.
The second thing I felt, as a result of the first, was insecurity. All of these weaknesses were laid bare before my friend. There was no hiding from them, as he could clearly perceive everything I struggled with.
In 1 Timothy 4:7-8 Paul issues a calling for the follower of Jesus. It is a call to train in godliness. This mission is likened to physical training. Here is what Paul says:
Train yourself for Godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
At the end of his command the writer issues an explanation for why training is so valuable: “it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come”. The idea is that the growth in holiness that comes through spiritual sweat becomes a testament of God’s promised future hope. To say it another way, our present sanctification, which is both partial and painful, is an ever-present reminder of the future complete sanctification that we have in the return of Jesus Christ, and in the bodily resurrection that comes with it.
So, you will feel inadequate. And you will see things in your life and say, “I don’t know if I can do that.” You will feel insecure because nothing brings you to your knees like knowing that all of who you are is exposed to someone else. Move through these feelings of inadequacy and insecurity to God, who is pleased with you in Christ, and will train you to be like him. Your identity is not your strength, but Christ’s. So trust in his work and seek the Father, who loves you and will make you like Jesus.