Working Out With God

Most days it takes a lot of effort to get my rear on the treadmill. Not because I have ginormous rear – although it most certainly isn’t dainty. I was pretty plus before plus was pretty. I simply struggle to get excited about the hamster race. I would much rather walk outside but when the cold blows in, I burrow inside the house like a hedgehog ten days late for hibernation.

hamster-wheel-runnerThe dreadmill is in my bedroom. In the evening when I walk past it to go to my bathroom, I avoid eye contact. But I can feel it looking at me. It looks a lot like my mother when I would tell her a new story about the guy I was seeing who was totally wrong for me. It’s the look of “I love you. I want what’s best for you. You’re making a HUGE mistake. If you don’t figure this out soon, I’m going to have to go ‘Dr. Phil’ on you.” I know the treadmill wants what is best for me and I’ll feel better if I spend some time with it but sometimes I just don’t want to. I may or may not have stomped my foot when I typed that last line.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve worked out and felt awesome afterwards. It doesn’t matter that just the day before I worked out and felt renewed. My short term memory is noncommittal. Today we’re back to playing hard to get.

I was thinking about this tonight while I was walking and listening to a podcast of Pete Wilson from Crosspoint Church in Tennessee. It is the “Your Burning Bush” sermon which was the first in a new series called Wide Awake. Any sermon that references both Katy Perry and Elizabeth Barrett Browning deserve your attention. Wilson was encouraging people to be wide awake to see God in the ordinary. How much more ordinary can you get than a dreadmill?

And, lo and behold, I saw God at a 5% incline at 3.2 mph.

Personally, I don’t really have to do much work on the treadmill – as you can see from my previously noted incline and speed. I’m not training for an olympic record, or any record for that matter. I just need to show up and be willing to walk. Be present, keep up and embrace the journey (and the handles) for what it is – a journey. The hardest part for me is showing up. I’ve got a million and one excuses for skipping out on it but on the days where I step up and hit start I never regret it. Never.

I’ve got a million and one excuses for skipping out on resting with God. Fifty percent of those excuses reek of religion. Forty-nine percent I attribute to my “issues”. The remaining one percent are legit. And by “legit” I mean God ticked me off and we are “getting some space and perspective”.

But on the days when I forgo the excuses and step up to be present with God, I never regret it. Never.

No agenda. No spiritual quota to fulfill. No foil star on a chart. I just show up and walk with God in order to receive rather than achieve. Receive God’s goodness and love. Receive His grace and mercy. Receive Her courage and wisdom. Receive God’s revelation of where He is at work in order to join Him.

Author Ruth Haley Barton says in her book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, that

the practice of paying attention [to God] awakens us to what is extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. As we live our lives in humble response to the One who is calling to us out of the burning bush in our own lives, we discover that we are standing on holy ground more often than we think.

Although at the beginning of the night I would rather have been sitting on holy ground, I’m grateful that God called out to me from the NordicTrak T 8.0 to remind me of the pleasure I receive by abiding in His presence. I’m also really grateful that I was so moved by the revelation that I had to take of my shoes ….. literally.

In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning,

Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees take off his shoes – the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries

Will you join me in looking with fresh eyes this week to see God in the ordinary? I would love to hear where you see Him but most importantly I hope you will join me in simply taking off our shoes and abiding with Him in those holy moments.

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5 thoughts on “Working Out With God

  1. Ms. Hatfield….it’s so funny that you wrote this. I happened to see you walking/running the other day. Yes, that’s right…I know (kind of) where you live. Not to far from me. But that’s not the funny part. The funny part is how you mention that to feel the spirit, no matter how difficult it may be at times, is to JUST SHOW UP. I happen to work out at Anytime Fitness, a great little gym on Edgewood. On one of the walls, members are encouraged to write inspirational quotes with chalk. For 2013, they wiped the wall clean and asked me to think of an inspirational quote related to fitness or working out. My philosophy on that is that sometimes people become too stuck on the idea of having a strict program with a million rules…..so what did I write on that board in big bold letters with that piece of chalk? “JUST SHOW UP!!!”

    Your favorite former History student named Dave,

    Dave Jordan =)

    • Haha!! I love it, Dave. Great minds ….. :) Just showing up would solve a lot of problems in life. We live so much of our lives and relationships with agendas. I love walking outside. If there is any break in the weather, you’ll find me outside. I don’t know if you saw me on Edgewood or at Cole County Lake. Both are great but I adore the lake. :)

      • I saw you on Oxford (I believe) headed towards Cole County Lake. My mother and father in-law live down the hill on Buckingham. I’d be willing to bet you’ve seen my wifey walking around there too with her friend Ashley. We live about a stone’s throw away from where that Medical Supply Store is, in Westview Heights. So, maybe if I concentrate on doing some good cardio and feeling the spirit of nature as much as I am into making myself look like a 30 year old version of Hulk Hogan (minus the Hulkamania, bald head covered by bright orange doo-rag and even more bright orange tan, protruding veins, and over-aggressive confrontational screaming at people I don’t particularly enjoy being around), I will see you on a few walks this spring/summer/fall!!! =D