I joined a health club this week. Believing that 1 Corinthians 6:19 is true (that’s the verse that talks about our body being “the temple of the Holy Spirit”); I noticed that my temple has been growing lately. Of course, I’m all for church growth, but my personal temple growth is a whole other matter. Karla has hinted that the time has come to put an end to the temple expansion project.
So in order to keep my sweetie pie, thinking of me as the svelte, buff, hubba hubba hunk of a man that she married, I said these three words: “Hello, health club.” (OK, truth be told, I have never been labeled svelte or buff. And no one, not Karla, not the blind sisters of compassion has ever used the words “hubba hubba” to describe me.)
As if you haven’t already come to this conclusion, I admit I’ve never been much of a gym rat. I couldn’t tell you the difference between an elliptical machine and washing machine. I don’t know where my oblique muscles are located. Until a few hours ago, I didn’t even know I had oblique muscles. As you can tell, Jack Lalanne, I am not. Still at 6:30 AM I was at the gym. Running shoes, shorts, t-shirt, and MP3 player all on-- I was ready to sweat, work, run, and get this temple back into shape.
But where does one begin?
I thought about hopping on a treadmill or a stationary bike—you can watch TV while running or pedaling one of those things. You could probably munch on a pop tart and watch TV on one of those contraptions. Now that’s my idea of an early morning work-out! But I decided the stationary bike was too much like a church I had pastored—no matter how much effort I put out, the thing wasn’t going anywhere. Fearing I might have unwanted flash backs, I decided I better try something else.
I could have taken a dip in the pool. Again my mind drifted to Mr. Drop’s PE class in the 10th grade. (Yes, my PE teacher’s name was “Mr. Drop.” Strange, but true.) Would there be a quiz on the back stroke? Do I have to wear the school issued Speedo swimsuit? Again, horrifying memories filled my brain.
I thought about lifting weights. But the notion of entering into the weight room, straining over some measly, puny little weight set, while some grandmotherly type was pumping iron like she was Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger across the room made me shutter. The prospect of being out “repped” (Notice the gym lingo I am using after just one visit! Before long I will be talking about “carbs,” “cardio” and other cool work-out terms), still I didn’t want “Grandma Arnold” to humiliate me on my first foray into the weight room. (I say if one uses the word “foray” they probably shouldn’t be going into any weight room, that’s a recipe for disaster!)
The gym even had one of those dummies that people kick and punch when they are practicing judo or karate. That could be fun. I could smack and hit and pummel the dummy pretending it to be… oh, wait a minute, I’m sorry. Pastors are not supposed to have such violent thoughts.
Like Forrest Gump, something deep inside me said, “Run, Robby, Run.” So I decided to start out jogging around the track. Nothing fancy, just jogging. There was a fifty something lady also jogging around the track. I don’t know how long she had been running since she was there before I started. And she was there long after my wheezing, coughing, sore body left the track. For all I know she is still running. But that’s OK, because at least I have started.
My flabby temple wasn’t built in a day (or with a single White Castle burger), and it probably won’t go away in a day or with ordering a salad once every quadrennial. But at least, I’ve begun.
I guess that is the point. I have started.
Maybe you’ve been looking at some area of your life that needs improvement. A closer walk with God, healthier habits, a closer relationship with your family, whatever… can I encourage you? Just start. Maybe you won’t be as good at it as some seasoned veteran, that’s OK—just start. If you’re no good at whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, that’s OK you’ll get better. Just start! Maybe you’ve tried and failed in the past. That’s OK, start again. Maybe it was a New Year’s resolution two months ago, and you messed it up even before Dick Clark was done rocking in New Year’s Eve. That’s OK, start again. Begin making good, healthy, holy choices. Start improving. Start trying. Start expecting God to work. Just start.