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What the Gym Taught Me About Loving God

Brooke Cooney

This Temporary Home
Published: Feb 18, 2014
What the Gym Taught Me About Loving God
A recent trip to the gym reminded me that God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Being in my early thirties, I should know how to jump rope with ease. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case until a few months ago. Working out is one of my favorite activities and setting small physical goals has become one of the motivations for helping me achieve new accomplishments and avoid a rut. Learning to jump rope was one such small goal.

A few months ago, I entered the gym with a purpose: get a good workout in and see if the CrossFit videos on jump roping would prove beneficial to me. Whom should my gaze find as soon as I entered? A handsome, twenty-something male at the computer in my all-women’s gym! I decided to stall, as any intimidated female would, and I hit the cardio deck.

One mile on the Stairmaster later, I worked up the nerve to pick up my pink jump-rope. I rehearsed the pointers I had learned: “Elbows tight by my side, hands forward at an angle and jump.” Twenty-five revolutions in and I was feeling great! I paused and geared up for a reset to continue jumping after a minor glitch in rhythm, swung the rope and… WHACK! The jump rope hit the ceiling fan and was flung across the room with a loud thud.

The handsome computer technician as well as my favorite personal trainer and the trainee she was working with all looked in my direction.

“I thought it sounded like a gun going off,” one of them remarked. I laughed it off, saying, “My goal today was not to embarrass myself with my new jump rope.”

“Watch out for the fans next time,” the trainer offered with an uneasy, and still startled smile.

This interaction was the continuation, if not the beginning, of a life-lesson: God teaches us in all aspects of our life because life is not a compartmentalized endeavor.

God’s intent is not to separate the physical from the spiritual or the intellectual. He uses discipline, endeavors and setbacks in each area of our lives to create overall discipline and development. We deceive ourselves if we think God only talks to us in church, or that we have a professional life separated from our spiritual life, or that the gym is not an act of worship.

God calls His people to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27). So, we must ask ourselves: In what areas are we strong? What areas are we weak? When it comes to loving God, what areas do I shy away from loving him fully: the spiritual, physical, or intellectual?

For example, do you find it easier to be a casual participant in Sunday services? Is it seemingly “safer” to get lost in the crowd of church worship than to step into the room of a small group Bible study? Do you find it less intimidating to share a prayer request than to offer to pray publically for your friend, small group, or a meal? Or on the converse side, do you excel in loving God with your soul but have neglected to love God by taking care of the body or the intellect He gave you?

We want to compartmentalize our lives, but God wants to transfer my gym lesson to my spiritual growth just as He wants me to love Him with all of my intellect and mind(not just my emotions within the context of Bible study or Sunday morning worship alone).

Maybe it is time to seek help. God desires for you to seek out friendships and acquaintances within the Body of Christ that can spur you on to love and good deeds.

Perhaps another gym lesson will help me to explain.

I am a wannabe Crossfitter. One of the exercises that Crossfitters do is called box jumps. I wanted to try this exercise for months, but was afraid I would fall or hurt myself. About three weekends ago, a very fit woman in the gym was doing box jumps. I watched her for a while as I simultaneously completed my workout, then I decided to act. “You are killing those box jumps,” I encouraged her. “I have wanted to try those for a while but have been too afraid.”  “Here,” she said as she stepped aside and offered me her hand, “you try.” I was floored; she was going to help me. She proceeded to show me how she squats then pumps her arms to give her momentum. I copied her technique and then, voilà! I was doing box jumps on a 15 inch-high box!

Had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and engaged a more experienced gym rat (for lack of a better term), then I would never have experienced the thrill of box jumps nor known that I could accomplish such an exercise.

How long will we let fear rob us of the good works that God has planned for us? (Ephesians 2:10) How many times will we avoid the opportunity to let a fellow sojourner teach us what they have learned be it physical, spiritual, or intellectual for the sake of our pride or the fear in our hearts?

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul reminds the Corinthians that Christ-followers are to run the race of life in such a way as to obtain the eternal prize. Further, that we should run with purpose in every step.

Christ longs for His followers to love him with all of themselves: mind, soul, heart and strength. How are you doing in each of these areas? Who can you seek help from or give help to in order to make more fully devoted followers of Christ Jesus within every sphere of His creation?

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24, NLT)

Go ahead, it’s your turn. What gym lessons have you learned lately? I would love to learn alongside you.

Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.