Today, for the first time in over three years, I ran the way I was supposed to run – pain free. Of course, “pain free” didn’t happen without enduring some pain.
On June 1, 2011, I was playing basketball when I ruptured my Achilles tendon. When that happened, it shocked my calf muscle, and after several months of non-use, it suffered atrophy and became weak. For years my right calf was smaller than my left (still is to some extent) and when I ran, it hurt. Because my right calf was weaker, my body compensated and put more pressure on my left side, which caused my left knee to hurt, too. The whole balance of my body was thrown off, and until recently, pain was a normal part of running for me.
Then I started lifting weights with my legs. And let’s face it – no one likes to lift legs. It’s difficult; it’s painful. But lifting helped because it set in motion the process designed to rebuild my body. It’s that process that I pondered during my run today when I unexpectedly realized I wasn’t hurting anymore.
Weightlifting is nothing more than defying the natural, gravitational pull of this world. You use your body to push heavy weights away from the center of the Earth, and in doing so your muscles break down, which hurts. It’s at that point you have a choice. You can either eat C.R.A.P. (Calorie Rich And Processed) food created by man or you can eat real food with nutrients designed by the Creator. Choose the latter, and your muscles rebuild quickly, stronger than they were before.
The analogy is clear. My spiritual muscles are ruptured and weak, perhaps through years of injuries or just plain laziness. There is a process through which it can be healed, though, and it’s the same one that applies to weightlifting. The Bible says to resist the devil, deny our flesh, and consider it joy when we encounter trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. (James 4:7; Matt 16:24; James 1:2-4).
I am to lift spiritual weights. I am to resist this world and deny my flesh. Some days that feels real heavy, and when I lift heavy weights, I am broken down and hurt. It’s at that time I can either choose to eat C.R.A.P. or feast on real food. If I choose C.R.A.P. (material things, entertainment, even focusing solely on my family), I won’t get what I need to rebuild. I will grow weaker, and I may stop lifting altogether. Instead, I need manly food. The living Word of God. The Bread of Life. When I consume that, I grow. Not through my own power, but because that’s the way God designed it work.
So let’s make the decision to obey God, throw on some 45s, and resist the pull of this world. Then when we’re sore, let’s feast on the Word and grow – not to show off, but so we can lift even more for the glory of Jesus Christ and run like we were made to run.
At the end of my life, I want to cross the finish line strong - sprinting at full speed into the arms of my Savior.