Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Are You Mobile? Be Thankful!

While growing up in Hawaii, not once did I take the beauty of the islands for granted. Literally, not a day went by without me consciously and deliberately saying to God, "Thank you for surrounding me with such beauty." Even today, when I return to Kailua, I do the same thing. And why not? This is the view that greets me each and every morning. 

As I've gotten older, there's something else I've learned not to take for granted, and that is my health. Each and every day, first thing in the morning, I say to God, "Thank you for allowing me to get out bed this morning, to walk, and even for the joy of being alive." It's because of God, and God alone, that I was able to lift this morning. 

And it was he who enabled me to run on this warm and pleasant day as well. 

I love that verse where Paul reminds us that the gospel is a treasure of infinite worth. Here it is in Greek.

Wow! What a marvelous sentiment! I'm sure you treasure the gospel as much as I do. But Paul adds that it is a treasure we have in jars of clay. The metaphor emphasizes just how weak and fragile we humans are. If you've ever been to an archeological dig in Israel -- I've been to several -- one thing that's certain to be found are bits of broken pottery called ostraca, made of earthenware and very fragile and cheap. Then Paul adds a very common construction in Greek that indicates purpose. It is hina plus the subjunctive. The Greek means "in order that." Paul says that God deliberately entrusts the gospel to weak and fragile creatures in order that it might be abundantly clear to all that the power and strength is all his and not ours. The same truth is also articulated in a parallel passage in Acts 17:28:

"For we live and move and exist because of him" (ISV). No words could better express our complete and constant dependence on God for any athletic endeavor we undertake. God is not only the foundation of life; he upholds us every single time we move. Whenever we take a step during a run or lift a dumbbell during a workout, we derive the strength to do so from him. In fact, Paul insists that we owe our very existence to God. It would be impossible to take a single breath without him. Stated negatively, apart from the Godhead, we have no life, no motor ability, not even existence itself. 

Every weightlifter knows that movement is the underlying drive of the entire muscle-building process. Consistently contracting your muscles over time is what forces your body to adapt and grow. There are many specific factors that come into play here, of course, including exercise selection, rep range, rep cadence, proper form, etc., but when it all boils down to it, none of that matters one bit if you aren't able to enjoy the motive energy that comes from God. The ability to "live, move, and exist" lies at the very foundation of the entire bodybuilding workout plan. If God does not allow you to get out of bed in the morning, to drive to the gym, and to pick up a weight, you can be sure you won't be getting bigger!

If you haven't been acknowledging your Creator as the source of your strength, it's time to get started. If you're the typical guy in the gym working with weights, this thought may have never crossed your mind. But the fact is that each of the 650 skeletal muscles in your body contract only when they receive signals from your motor neurons, which are triggered from a part of the cell called the sarcoplasmic reticulum. 

The better you become at having those signals tell your muscles to contract, the stronger you can get. All of this is simply a reminder that your body is a marvelous machine, a machine far more intricate than any machine ever devised by man. Your brain computes and sends through your body billions of bits of information that control every action, right down to the flicker of an eyelid. Meanwhile your heart is pumping blood through thousands of miles of blood vessels, carrying nutrients and oxygen to every part of your body. In one day your heart will pump enough blood to fill 40 fifty-gallon drums. 

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

Gen. 1:27 says, "So God created man in his image." What a glorious truth. The power to lift or to run is not ours. It's his. I say it again: We have this treasure of the gospel in earthen pots of clay, so that the surpassing greatness of the power might be of God and not of us. Why not thank him today? Be thankful for all of it.