I must have looked pitiful.
Or near passing out.
I'm really not sure.
But it was over 90 degrees in the blazing sun, and the I was on the sidewalk of East Butler leaning over the heaviest punching bag I had attempted to carry the distance of what my trainer calls a 4BL- about 1/3 of a mile.
I had to power lift this bag to my shoulder, then go the distance.
Everything in me screaming, I would set mini goals in my mind, get to that point and then stop to breathe, and, of course, keep from falling out!
After a while at 4BalanceFitness, you forget about the passers by, those curious observers along the 4 lane highway. You simply do what's gotta be done, not focusing on what the gawkers may or may not be thinking!
But this day, as I was leaned over to rest before trying to reach my next mini goal, puffing hard, burning up, wiping sweat, I was a surprised and a little confused when a couple pulled up beside me and stopped.
The nice lady, with concern all over her face, leaned out her window and asked,
"Mam...do you need some help?!?"
At first I thought, "With what?!"
But then I realized how this whole scenario must have looked to these kind people!
They saw me, struggling ferociously with this massive punching bag, near exhaustion, and they wanted to relieve my struggle in some way if they could.
When all this finally sunk in- which took a minute because I was in "the zone"- I replied,
"Oh! That is so kind, but I am actually doing this for my workout! It's on purpose! I am fine just taking a breather. Thank you though-that is so sweet of you."
And with that, they smiled and drove a little ways then did a u-turn and went back about their way.
I chuckled a little to myself, imagining how ridiculous I must have looked to prompt them to do a u-turn and ultimately stop, but, then, I knew I had to pick up that bag and press on!
As I did, and it got harder, I thought, "Man I am paying for this! Wonder what those people would say to that?"
And then as I went further, I thought, "Whew, I should have said, YES, you CAN help! Let me load this beastly bag into your car and you can drive it just out of eye shot of the door to my gym and then I will carry it the rest of the way!"
But in reality, I wouldn't have traded a second of that hot, heavy, tiring punching bag carry...yes, I was worn, but I felt strong and knew that I would be stronger for finishing and finishing well.
So finally- and I do mean fiiiiiiinnnaaaaallllyy-I made it back to the door, bag hoisted high, finishing strong with a run to the door, my trainer Meg cheering me the rest of the way!
We had a good laugh about my sidewalk encounter that day, but as I began to think about all that had transpired, I realized that my journey as a Believer can often feel the same way.
There are paths of struggle that we are often called to walk-those heavy laden scorchers we never look forward to when God writes it out on that big training chalk board of your life.
And when we look at the path, it seems long and laborious and, at times, even impossible, yet, you know you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
And yes, sometimes we have to stop and catch our breath and set our eyes on small goals just ahead.
But more dangerously, we are often tempted to quit along the way.
We wait and hope for someone else to walk the path for us, to work these muscles in our place...but it doesn't work that way.
We have spiritual muscles that need to be trained and no one can do the walking, lifting, huffin and puffin for you.
These moments of exhaustion and desperation are really moments of strength.
These are the moments that make you stronger.
These are the moments that take you deeper.
These are the moments that make you DIG.
These are the moments you find Him and KNOW Him like never before!
Yes, you may look a sight along the way-disheveled and weary worn-but God's strength is being made a reality in you.
Yes, you may have to pause and regain focus, but He is there to cheer you, support you to the finish.
Place your feet on the tough path with God confidence.
He isn't desiring to tear you down, He is longing to build you and strengthen you beyond your imagination.
He has released all the power you need to walk it out and finish strong.
It doesn't mean that it will be easy, but it WILL be worth it...every step drawing you to Himself and a spiritual body that is fit and firm through the power of His Holy Spirit alive in you!
And the well-meaning helpers?
Show them all that quitting is not an option...because what lies across the finish line is a prize beyond compare!
Go the distance.
"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:14 ESV
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."
1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV
"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach."
Deuteronomy 30:11 NIV84
"Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it."
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 MSG
"We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul-not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy"
Colossians 1:11 MSG