This week I was visiting my not so happy place . . . the gym:( I wish I could be one of those healthy activists who love to exercise. You know, the people who actually enjoy (gagging noise) working out?!?!
As I walked down the long aisle of sweat-producing machines--elliptical lane on the left and treadmill alley on the right--I came to my desired destination . . . the rowers.
When I plopped down on the gliding seat, I began to fasten my feet into the straps on notch number three, and read a small sign attached to the program display area. It said:
“ROWER WORKS, DISPLAY NOT WORKING”
This meant that the machine itself was functioning correctly, but the area in which I should be able to track my workout was unavailable. Normally I would be able to monitor my distance, pace, time, and calories burned.
This was not the best case scenario for a workout, (since all of the information above is usually a visual motivator to keep me going) but since that was the only rower available, I remained and started my exercise routine.
With every pull of the chain on the rower handle, my eyes kept staring straight ahead at the sign that was taped to the top of the blank electrical device. That sentence kept repeating in my mind, over and over . . . “ROWER WORKS, DISPLAY NOT WORKING.”
Okay Lord, I know there is a spiritual connection here. What are You trying to show me? So I prayed as I rowed. And then a huge smile spread across my face as the Holy Spirit revealed truth to my heart:)
Although I could not see any exercise calculations, I know I was working out. How? The evidence was all around me. My shirt was wet with sweat, my ring finger on my right hand developed a visible blister from rubbing against the handle, and my leg and back muscles began to feel the burn throughout the duration of my rowing. The pain my body showed and felt was an indicator of work that took place.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God gave Christians a digital display box to see our progress? It sure would be encouraging to view measurable data in our race. We would be able to monitor how far we have traveled in our walk, the pace at which we are advancing, how long we have been moving and growing, and how many lives we have touched. Of course this spiritual fitbit does not exist, but we don't need it anyway.
Although we don’t have a digital device to see movement and spiritual experiences recorded as data, GOD’S POWER IS WORKING in our lives. How do we know? The evidence is all around us. WE ARE THE DISPLAY!
Our lives become a track record of God’s power working! Christians may not showcase a holy digital display, but rather we are testimonial jars of clay.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NIV)
“Jars of clay” is a biblical metaphor for human beings. We are fragile vessels that contain the light and power of Jesus within. Our privilege and responsibility is to let others see Christ through us--as displayed in our lives.
Just like I had physical symptoms (sweat, a blister, sore muscles) to show that I was working out, God gives us circumstances to show His power working . . . our painful trials.
Training is hard and requires a lot of effort! The blood, sweat, and tears that come with running the Christian race--it’s all supposed to be used to display God’s power and glory.
Here are the next verses in the passage above . . .
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NLT)
Read that last line slowly again. “Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” Suffering . . . so that . . . Jesus can be seen in our bodies. Sure sounds like a working power display to me:)
What does your clay display (life) say to others about the power of Jesus?