We’ve all heard about the guy who said to his doctor, “It hurts when I do this.” “Well then” says the doctor, “don’t do that!” About five years ago, I went skiing with my family and had a mishap that hyper-extended my knee. I was careful with it, and over time, the pain went away; but I notice that the pain returns if I’m not careful -- like last week when I was running up at Mount Hermon at a pastor’s conference. Pass the ibuprofen please!
As I sat at the kitchen table this week, icing my knee, I saw an LA Times article that seemed well timed: “Don’t’ Let the Realities of Life Run You Off Your Exercise Goals.” The basic point of the article was that we don’t need to exercise until we’re in pain, we need to stop exercising when we’re in pain! I’m not talking about the normal buildup of lactic acid that stimulates muscle growth. I’m talking about the sharp pains we may feel with a knee, elbow, or back injury. No amount of ice or ibuprofen is going to change the fact that tendons and ligaments are more vulnerable as we age. I am learning that I need to be careful how I exercise, increasing repetitions and lowering the weight, or doing a different kind of exercise altogether. My running days may be going the way of the dodo bird, but swimming in the pool, getting on a bike or rowing machine, or even taking a hike have become good alternatives.
The remedial lesson for me this week, is that I need coaching if I want to make a significant change in my life. That Times article gave me some good advice, but so have two guys at my gym who are close to 80 years old. One is a former Venice bodybuilder who worked out with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his younger days and the other is a physical therapist from the Jack LaLanne era. These guys have helped me to remember that, unlike my Pandora playlist, this is not the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s -- so work out accordingly.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” Solomon wisely said (Proverbs 15:22). Who are the wise counselors that you turn to when your spiritual fitness plan is not working out? Who is speaking God’s truth to you when you need to be challenged or encouraged? Paul once wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4: 7). It’s not that Paul is taking all the credit for his spiritual stamina. We know that he had training buddies, as well as excellent coaches. There were those who instructed him like Ananias and Barnabas (Acts 9: 10, 17). There was those who ran alongside him like Dr. Luke (Acts 15:11), Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2). And there were those whom Paul coached like Timothy (2 Timothy 2:1-3). During this past week’s conference we were given time to write down those who have increased our faith and helped us through difficult times. What a blessing to write down those names, and give thanks, remembering that I am not meant to finish this race alone.
As we begin a new small group season at St. John’s, beginning next week, let me invite you to consider for a moment three questions. (1) Who is the person who is pouring his or her life into you as a mentor? (2) Who is a peer that you can relate to as a brother or sister in Christ? (3) Finally, who is someone older and wiser, whether in age or in spiritual maturity, who can smile and say, “Don’t do that!” or “Why not try this?” We need all three in order to finish the race well. Hope to see you soon…