So, I’ve started going to the gym again. My mindset is not to get big and strong, I have no interest in six-pack abs, I just want to stay ahead of the curve. I’ve been back at it pretty regular for about three weeks now. I was hoping that by initiating some jealously guarded self-care I could at least raise my energy level and just feel a little better mentally, physically, even spiritually throughout the day. So far, not so much. I’m feeling mostly the same, only a little sore to boot.
This just reminds me that there is no quick fix in life. We like the idea of an instant remedy, but to really restore something it takes time; it’s a process. The Bible says that those whom God loves he disciplines. We need to understand that discipline is not punishment. Punishment can be involved in discipline, but they are not synonymous. Discipline is training … like the discipline of going to the gym. God is reshaping us into the image of his son, and that takes time — usually because in one way or another, we resist it, either like the battle of the blankets when it’s time to get up and go work out, or the battle of the bulge when we hork down that cheeseburger and extra large fries even though we know it works against us.
I think sometimes our longing for instant gratification spoils our experience. We attend a retreat, a summer camp, a conference, or even a weekly church gathering and expect some radical and instant change. These can be mountain top experiences for sure, but they are still steps in a much bigger process. Peter and John got to witness the Transfiguration of Jesus but were told to keep quiet about it because they wouldn’t understand that experience until much later. The apostle Paul spent two or three years “off the grid” with Barnabas after his conversion because he was connecting the dots and working through what God was doing. There is eternal value in these moments and investments of our time and attention, but we often miss it because we’re looking for the big thing, the flash in the pan, the immediate result.
It would be easy for me to conclude that the gym isn’t working, and therefore isn’t worth the time and money because change isn’t obvious at week three. It is just as easy to assume that camp, conferences, retreats, classes, and corporate gatherings aren’t valuable because you aren’t the embodiment of Jesus yet. I’m going to keep going to the gym. I’m going to keep taking care of myself. I will because I am convinced that the time is well spent for a number of reasons and that I am laying the groundwork for a healthier, stronger, better readied me. There is no quick fix. Faithfulness, and the fruit it bears, is only ever proved of time and Jesus is a very worthy pursuit.