And the Lord, turning to him, said, Go in the strength you have and be Israel’s saviour from Midian:have I not sent you?Judg 6:14
Yesterday, I went to the gim. I generally do not like it when many people are there, but this time it was worse than ever. Not only did I have to wait for the machines to be free, having to change the order of exercises. The only treadmill was taken by some fitness freak that stayed on it for almost an hour.
I had to go to another cardio machine. A double win for me, because I stayed even though there were so many people, and I worked out on a machine I did not know before and, frankly, did not like.
I stood there wondering. When using the treadmill, it already runs. Not the band you walk on, but the computer interface. The screen is up and running, telling you what to do. Step on the side bars, start your program, and then start walking on the band. Approaching the bicycle, there was but a dark screen and no switch. It wasn’t before somebody told me to just start pedaling that I got the machine running.
The treadmill works like a charm. I decide to go faster and steeper, push a few buttons, and away we go. Better even, I leave it to the program, The treadmill just moves and has me keep up or fall off.
The bicycle on the other side just reports on what I am doing. It might automatically switch gears to change resistance, but it is me giving the pace.
This made me think of my life. Strange things go through my head all the time, but especially working out.
Wait on God
There is a treadmill way to live my Christian life. I make a few decisions, like joining with God in the first place—getting on the treadmill, to stay with the metaphor. I can decide upon the speed or even have God set it. I then leave it to God to move and I hopefully go along in sync.
The decisions I have to make on the way are few. To stay on there, to adjust the speed, to enter some data I am asked for. My thoughts can easily wander, I can read a book or think about life. My emotions might be reactions to the speed or steepness, but more likely about the things I think, read, listen to.
This reminds me of a life with God where I decide that he is Lord, and being Lord means that he tells me what to do to the detail. I pray and read the bible to know the next step. I am simplifying, I know, but bear with me for a minute.
I know God has a plan for me, and I wait for this plan to unfold, and in the meantime I keep walking, yes indeed. I keep doing what he told me to do last.
God, bless my Thing
On the other hand, the bicycle way of Christianity. I am on a machine, thus I made my decision. But now, I take things in my own hands. I tell God about speed and gear, resistance and distance. I watch the monitors closely and adjust, but I have to do it.
Without me doing anything, God remains silent. Just a big dark screen that leaves me dumbfounded, not knowing what to do. With some help of others to get me started, I finally figure it out. I am sure there is more, but I have to figure it out myself. If I am too inexperienced or dumb to do the right thing, I either fall short of the possible effects or depend heavily on what others found works.
My experience just tells me that either they had to find out themselves as well—and that leaves a chance that there is much more possible that nobody found so far. Or they have some unfair advantage: they were schooled by the maker or got the manual.
One meaning that we all most probably only experience part of what is possible or do it wrong in the first place. The other dividing Christians into two groups: enlightened and laity. Called and the rest.
But once we are on the machine, we hope that what we do will bring the desired effect. We ask God to bless what we do.
Finding the Balance
To wait on God solely means to neglect faculties that God gave us. We were created in his image, creative, thinking, feeling, and acting. It is wonderful to wait on God, but do it actively. Train your capacities. Use your creativity. Always ready to be corrected, even to let go.
To just do your thing is neglecting the Lordship of God. It is to deny his desire to lead us and guide us.
To let him do everything is to deny God what he wants most: communion with an equal. He wants a wife for his son. He wants a body for the head Jesus. He does not want puppets on a string. We thought he would and modeled our marriages that way: the husband speaks, and the wife jumps. Because we thought God was that way. It was so easy. Just let him do it, and blame him for the outcome. And it was so hard. It was all against our make. But that was easy to fix. We redefined our make and called it nature, and our nature had to die. God was to break our will, and we to obey. But since God was benevolent, that would lead to happiness and fulfillment.
To do everything ourselves is to deny God what he wants most: communion in the first place. There is no unity without dependence. There is no communion without communication. We are not one if there are hierarchies. Nor are we one if there is trial and error as a basis for a relationship.
We are to find a balance.
Let us use all of our faculties. Let us be creative. Let us think. Let us take part in the plan God has for us and give him all we are. Yet stay teachable. Listen for correction. Believe in his desire to lead you and guide you, to show you things nobody has seen before. You need the relationship with others to figure out his ways, as he decided that relationship and communication are the building blocks of communion. At times you need them, and then they need you. Because there is no hierarchy, there is unity in diversity.
Machines to workout are a terrible metaphor, and yet reminded me of much about life. For too long I was on a treadmill, leaving it seemingly to God and often to others to decide about my life. I do not want to step off, nor do I want to go on a bicycle and do it all myself. I want to search the balance.
How about you?