I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I’m not nearly active enough. I want to be more active—as do many people, but I just can’t seem to find the time. Recently, in an effort to develop some new habits, I went with my wife to an exercise camp that she goes to. I rolled (stumbled, fell) out of bed at 4:30 in the morning and I believe my first words of the day were, “This is stupid.” Upon arriving at the camp, I didn’t know what to do, or where to set up. All of a sudden, a woman was shouting things on a megaphone and everyone sprang into action. I looked around and did my best to mimic what everyone else was doing. It all started well enough, but after what felt like three or four hours (actually 15 minutes) the woman on the megaphone said “great warm up! Now let’s get started.” I barely heard what she’d said because it was hard to hear over the sound of my heartbeat pounding in my ears. I had flashbacks to the first day of football camp in high school…I remember how, every year, after having done nothing all summer long, my body was rudely awakened by those first warm-up drills. Our coaches used to yell inspirational things at us like—“If you’re not getting stronger, you’re getting weaker!”
The workout eventually ended and it probably wasn’t as terrible as I made it out to be, but all of that is to say this: when I woke up the next morning, I thought I was about to actually die. There were parts of my body that were sore that I didn’t even know could be sore. It hurt to sit up, to walk, to sit down, to sneeze…it was awful, but after some time (and some more working out) the soreness eventually began to fade and the workouts seemed more worthwhile.
This to me is an image of discipleship. There are aspects of our faith, in connecting to people, purpose, and God, that if left un-used, un-tested, or un-developed become unwieldy and difficult to use when a time comes that we really need them: praying, sharing your faith story, or even discerning something like a career change or how to spend your free time to name a few. The only way to develop those aspects of our faith is to work them out.
Now every metaphor breaks down at some point, but this remains to be said: when we practice deepening our discipleship, we open ourselves to God’s sanctifying grace, that is little by little we let God shape and perfect us in the love of God so that in our living we reflect more and more an image of the one who created us and who we claim to follow after. I know I’m not there yet, but I am still working it out.