Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Dangerous Mixture...

Common sense tells me that nitroglycerin and jumping jacks don't mix well. It should be common knowledge that you don't mix pregnancy and pole vaulting. It is equally ill advised to mix sarcastic observations and your Senior Drill Sergeant (a story for another day). I should have known better than to mix a gorgeous girl and weight lifting yesterday but I think I got caught up in the moment and today I am paying the price for my juvenile drive to impress a hottie.

I have been out of weightlifting for the past 15 months after sustaining an injury...My 5 year old took me out of commission with a weird shoulder injury...but anyway. I decided this week to go back in the gym and see what I can do. When I was forced out of the gym last year I was in the best shape of my life and I just had to know how much I had lost. Yesterday was "legs day" and I had chosen the old faithful lift to test my current level of strength in my legs....squats. After doing a warmup set I noticed that this HOT woman was checking me out from the cardio area upstairs. I caught her looking my way and she gave me a shy, yet revealing smile so I figured if she was going to be watching me, I may as well put on a show. Against my better judgement I began to pile on more and more weight with each set. I was pushing the limits...which is always easier to do when you feel certain you are being admired by a hottie. When the workout was all said and done I felt great. I had done more weight with more ease than I had anticipated and while this Gym Goddess shouldn't have been impressed with my flabby body pushing around a lot of weight...she said she was. That's right, she came downstairs and told me how cool the "Squat Clinic" I had just put on was. I told her I had to hit the shower if I was going to make it to work on time and she kissed me and told me that she and the kids would see me when I got home.

OK, so the hottie was my wife...and while that may take the sleazy, cheating aspect out of the equation, it doesn't remove the fact that I did something stupid to impress a girl. It was stupid because since yesterday I have been walking around like I have some horrible issue with my rectum...think along the lines of a corn cob. I stumble and hobble up steps and I get up from my seat with the speed and agility of a 90 year old recovering from bilateral knee replacement surgery. Why in the world did I do such a stupid thing? I think it is because I forgot...I forgot how lactic acid collecting in muscles burns and feels like it is somewhere near the boiling point of Tungsten. I forgot that walking is essential to mobility and that doing something like I did would greatly limit my ability to walk. I forgot that my wife loves me whether I squat 10lbs or 1000lbs. It all makes me wonder what else I forget? What else do the people of God forget?

I am reminded that the Ten Commandments do not begin with "1. You shall have no other Gods before me". The Ten Commandments begin with, "I am The Lord you God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of slavery" (Exodus 20). Why in the world does that matter?
It is as though God is telling his people that his commandments are not being given by someone that doesn't enjoy a history with them. The rules aren't provided by a dictator but rather by The One who has provided for them before and is now providing for them again. God didn't do this just once in scripture. In so many ways, God did this again and again...constantly reminding His people of the relationship He shared with them.

There seems to be a New Testament Equivalent of this event in happens in Luke 6. Some scholars refer to this sermon as "The Sermon on the Plain". Just like Moses, Jesus has just spent time on a mountain with God. Just like Moses, Jesus comes down and stands on the plain among the people and shares with them the "new rules". This time there is no talk of the initial ten commandments...not directly anyway. This time we hear about how the rules work in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 6 (The Message)
You're blessed when you've lost it all. God's kingdom is there for the finding. You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry. Then you're ready for the Messianic meal. You're blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning.
"Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don't like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this. Give Away Your Life But it's trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you'll ever get. And it's trouble ahead if you're satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long.
And it's trouble ahead if you think life's all fun and games. There's suffering to be met, and you're going to meet it.
"There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.
"To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

Much in the way I hate that my legs don't move exactly like my brain instructs them to today...I don't care much for the words in red written above. Probably that is because like it is natural for me to want to impress some hot girl, it is also natural for me to want to react to bad circumstances in ways that don't display the blessings God says exist. It is natural for me to beat the hell out of my enemies, not love them. But the fact that I have natural tendencies is exactly why I need the Kingdom of God in my world. The fact that I do not always accurately represent the Kingdom of God is all the more reason why I need His touch...that's just one more lesson for me to learn and one more thing I should never forget. By the way, my legs still hurt!!!

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