I was praying on my way to the gym today… just checking in to say hi. And while I’m at it, why not mention my usual prayer requests? Oh boy, am I thankful God is never tired of us coming to Him.
But on my trek to the gym, I was expecting to get a workout, not a lesson from God. I just wanted to hurry up and get my routine in and go home. I was hungry. VERY hungry.
But alas, if I truly believe God’s presence is with me at all times, why wouldn’t I be hearing/experiencing Him in the everyday places?
So after doing some leg work, it was time for some upper body lifts. Lateral machine. Press up over your head, and then bring the weight back down. Feel that burn in your deltoids, baby…
…And listen to God speak to you?
I confess I’ve been feeling pretty anxious again lately.
Luckily, exercise is always a good “go-to” to let out that pent up, unproductive energy and replace it with renewed, fruitful, invigorating energy.
So I’m lifting the machine upwards- boy it’s heavy- and hear this whisper.
“See Melissa,” the voice whispered as I lifted the machine downwards past my ears.
“This is the burden you’ve been carrying. It’s heavy, isn’t it?”
“What, God?” I inquire, kinda freaked out, yet encouraged by the fact that this kind of God stuff happens to people all the time.
“When you press upwards like that, that’s the stuff you can choose to give to me. If you want to. It’s heavy, I know, literally quite heavy, but I’m using it right now to show you that when you give things over to me, I already know, already understand that they are heavy burdens. It doesn’t ‘feel good’ necessarily to lift them over to me. But those endorphins you will feel after you complete your set of laterals… they are nothing compared to the sweet surrender you’ll experience if you trust me fully.”
I push through my third rep. Lift up-give to God, bring the bar back down to starting position, that’s the burden… Rep 5- lift up; Give it, give it all. All the way up. You know who you’re giving it to. And down. Lift down- it’s heavy, isn’t it?
“This is what you have been carrying around inside of you… What, you don’t like it? It’s hard? It hurts? Come back to me,” the whisper echoed.
Rep 6- “ok, God, I am giving it to you, I am reaching upward. But it still hurts.”
“ I know. Your muscles get strong on this machine, and your trust muscles get strong too, as you take the heavy stuff and bring it to me. I’m sorry to say, but your shoulders, no matter how many reps you do, will never be strong enough to carry the burdens of this world, or rather, any burden you’re facing without me.”
“Good,” I think, as I cringe at the thought of any more weight on my shoulders.
“But God, it’s just as heavy when I’m lifting up as when I’m bringing it back down, holding onto it. Shouldn’t it get easier as I lift up towards you?”
“I know. You see, I call you to trust me with the ‘heavy things.’ Things that are hard. That you can’t do on your own strength, at least not past one set.”
“So this heaviness I still feel, even as I surrender to you, is ok?”
“Yes, my child. It’s ok. Just because I’m God doesn’t mean I don’t understand how heavy, how valued, how many emotions stand behind whatever you are giving me. It’s going to hurt as you surrender to me. But afterwards, just like this workout, when you finish, you will be satisfied. Physically, your body will be stronger because of this sweaty, lift-until-you-feel-your-legs-are-going-to-fall-off workout. And spiritually- when you finish giving over these objects, emotions, people, places, circumstances, and things over to my control, I will send you my spirit to give you a peace that never would have occurred had you still held onto these things, grappling with them, controlling them, hiding them, or even trying to ignore them completely in the process.”
On the tenth rep, I literally didn’t know if I would be able to press the weight all the way to the top (I was going for maximum weight). Pushing hard, making weird “garhhhh” kind of faces, teeth gritting, arms shaking, unsure whether to inhale or exhale, keep my eyes open or closed, I make that last rep reach the top all the way above my head. This time, I gave the things I was carrying over to God (maybe that’s why that last rep was so much harder). I had some serious doubts as to whether I could complete that last rep, but sure enough, somehow I was able to.
I walked onto the next machine. The truth of what God revealed to me (through an inanimate weight machine in the middle of a well-frequented fitness club) was something I knew I needed to take seriously. But I didn’t think I could handle God “speaking” through another fitness machine that night. The lat machine was enough. Start speaking to me at the ab machine, God, and I might disregard everything I thought I heard and reason that I was dehydrated and delusioned. Kidding. 🙂
All of this makes me smile. I just love these everyday God moments, where we don’t expect to hear from him, where we’re just going about our day, not expecting to find God in our commute to work, the line at the grocery store, or at the weight machine where you’re working your… tail off.
But those are often my favorite God moments. Church is great, and marveling creation, even better, but I relish in his presence even more in the ordinary places because I know that he truly is with me; beside me; never out of reach, just like he said he would be. After all, he’s God, so why can’t he communicate whenever, wherever, and however he wants to?
So today, I am thankful for God-in-the-everyday. For choosing to speak to me in my daily surroundings. He reminds me that he’s never far, and that I’m not the only one going about my day here. Tonight, as I close my eyes and begin to drift, I wonder where we will converse tomorrow and where my next lesson will occur. I’m not sure where, not sure how, but I do know that it will be in the ordinary and it will be beautiful.