Friday, January 07, 2011

The Messenger of Sweat

The stretching mat at LA Fitness Gym is an interesting place to learn spiritual lessons. Before you discount that idea, think about something. As you stretch your hamstrings, you can look around at all the members of the club. And at the club I work out in, there is a wide range of potential physical champions ranging from young kids to geriatric plate bangers who have the spirit of the grim reaper himself hovering over them; as if to “spot them” while they push up that one last rep on the bench press.

So today was a cornucopia of delight where my people watching passions are concerned. It was what the military calls a “target rich environment”. There was a young man who is approximately one third my age; which incidentally put the exact same weight on his bench press bar that I do. Nothing deflates the fragile male ego faster than watching Mr. Punyverse effortlessly bang out more reps with the same weight as you do. There were the usual suspects of mirror watching, roided self obsessed Guidos. There was even a Barry White look alike who was wearing lots of bling to the gym. I noticed him because he shouted out something indicating that either he had turrets syndrome, or had dropped a dumbbell on his left testicle. It became apparent after careful observation that he was simply rapping along to the Ipod playing somebody obnoxious like Cee Low at 100 decibels into tiny Walmart ear buds. There was a “twenty something” normal looking girl on the leg abduction machine who constantly scanned the club with a shame based countenance, convinced that every man there was checking her out with a lustfully perverse fascination. I really don’t think anybody was even aware of her existence, other than me.

But the reason I mention this is because of two older men who owned the crunch machine for a while. Taking turns and exerting as little energy as possible, they made sure that nobody else had access to it. Possession is 9/10ths of the law they say. I was on the mat no more than 10 feet from them. And wasn’t even stealthy in my desire to eavesdrop. They rambled on about Ronald Reagan destroying this country, and something else that sounded like the adults on the Charlie Brown cartoons. Blah, blah, blah. Then I heard the word that immediately got my attention: Jesus. It seems that one of the men had been recently laid off from his job after many years of hard work and dedicated devotion to that business. And I noticed on his face something that I own and wear frequently. It’s the “everything’s going to be alright mask”. When men get scared, they usually put up a power fa├žade. It’s the reason that barking dogs never bite. And also the reason that the wizard of Oz was really just an old man behind the curtain. And one man wore it proudly like a football jersey on a rabid fan at the Super Bowl. The other man was doing exactly what needed to be done: quoting scripture. He was relaying his own testimony of how he had been out of work for two years and somehow God always provided for him. He said that it was miraculous how people would give him things when he needed it most. He never lacked food, money, electricity, water, or anything that would be considered a “need”. It made me think of this scripture:

“I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:25 (New King James Version)

I felt the pull of my quadriceps as I listened and pondered. They were unaware that I was taking in that message as if it were specifically given for me. It’s funny how God works that way. They moved on to the lat pull down machine, and I relocated to the elliptical rider. And hours later I sit here at my computer writing this to let you know that God knows exactly what you need, and when you need to hear it. You see, I have been put in a position this week where I need to trust God. And the first thing I did was to run put on my man mask. But deep down inside I needed to hear what the man said to his friend. He confirmed what my amazing wife had been saying from day one. The man rattled off scripture after scripture like an anointed Gatling gun. And you know how the word of God is, it doesn’t return void. It accomplishes everything that God wants it to accomplish.

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 (King James Version)

So I challenge you to not be a wimp where your knowledge of the Bible is concerned. And to speak it when you feel the tiny tug of prompting. You never know who might be listening in. And maybe some day you will come to an understanding of this great cloud of witnesses you are surrounded by, what you said, seeds you sowed, and fruit that was born because you had the courage to sharpen iron with your innate iron.

“The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry. And a wise friend's timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.” Proverbs 25:11 (The Message)


  1. Jayne9:33 PM

    Love this!!! So true...who knows who is listening and what they may be encouraged by..