Monday, September 20, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Round

Ahhh, these long hot days of summer are hanging on. But that means I get to spend more time exercising in the pool. This Monday evening I took advantage of some quiet time since my hubby is in school and my youngster is hanging with his buddies, to get in some pool time.  My routine is to check the filters, skim, check the pump, and then get in my laps. Earlier in the summer our pool pump quit. Well, I couldn't find an exact match, matter of fact I couldn't find anything close, so I had to get a pump about 1/3 stronger than the old pump. It has actually turned out to be a very good thing in a number of ways.  Our pool is round so I found out right away that this bigger pump did more than just move the water in a circle to the skimmer. This pump actually creates a current, one that you can feel pushing you.  This is a huge benefit for me because my exercise time is usually somewhat limited, so I want to get the most "bang for my buck" with my time.  When I swim my laps for exercise I always swim against the current. It seems like in no time my arms and legs are burning, so I know I'm getting a good work out.  When I've hit my exercise goal, I swim the other direction....or rather I coast in the other direction (that big ole pump does a really good job of pushing me along).

This evening as I swam I was doing some thinking.  Some thoughts about work, some about home, school I'd like to finish up, and so on. Then I realized I really wanted to stop and spend this wonderful quiet time with the Lord.  I really needed to have a good chat with my Lord. Sometimes these "chats" can go on a long time, but tonight was totally different.  My puzzlement of late was why it is such a challenge for me to stay close to God. I know what I need to do, I read, I pray, but I feel like I'm always struggling.  Then....quick as a flash God spoke to me.  No, not in a clear voice, but to my soul.  He said, "Oh, child of mine. You are so impatient. When you exercise, do you push your arms and legs against the air with no resistance and expect results?" Just that quick I was humbled and different scriptures began to come to mind.  I knew I had to dig further into this Word from God right away, so out of the pool I came and straight to the Bible.

First I went to James 1:2-4 "Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing."

Oh, yes. I want to build up my endurance! That's the point of my exercise. I want to be able to do things like I used to be able to, walk farther, ride my bike for miles upon miles. Shouldn't my walk with God be the same way?  Well, I have to exercise my faith, stay in the Word, pray, and spend time with God.

I then turned over to Romas. Paul wrote: " For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."  "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  NIV Romans 7:19-20  and 7:24-25. 

Paul struggled, and stayed in prayer, and he endured.  Growing stronger and closer to the Lord. Oh, how I want that. 
Then I paused for a bit and realized that even Jesus took time to get alone and talk to God the Father.  What a "Wow" moment to realize even Jesus needed time with the Father to renew Himself.  I don't see many places where it is shared exactly what Jesus prayed, but it is mentioned frequently that Jesus would rise early to prayer....or go to lonely places, quiet places, to pray.  However, Jesus' prayer in the garden is shared in scripture.  In Gethsemane Jesus was troubled.  Scripture tells us that He said "His soul was overwhelmed."  Jesus knew what awaited Him, so I can clearly understand why He was overwhelmed.  He knew that the persecution, the beatings, was coming upon him very soon.  He was in human form, so He knew this was going to be agony.  In Gethsemane, not only do we see Jesus asking God to give Him an easier path, but also saying "Not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39).  I'm not a theologian by any means, but it seems like He's not only asking for relief, but strength to see everything through.
Yes, I was sorely humbled by word I received. What a wake up call. Why did I spend so many years assuming that things should come easily, fall smoothly into place, and be a snap for me? How silly.  It didn't happen for John, James, Paul or even Jesus.  Why did I think I was an exception.  Thankfully, that self-deception has been lifted. I see clearly now that it takes resistance, trials, some hard lessons, and spiritual exercises in order for me to build "muscles." I know that God has a plan for all these spiritual muscles He's building. It is going to be exciting to see how He plans to use them.

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