Thursday, August 10, 2017

Training for the Heavy Lifts



Yesterday was Matt's 16th birthday. He decided to close the day by lifting weights. Cleans. NBD. Every lift seemed to lead to another one, and after a while we had all gathered in the garage with him to watch as they got heavier and heavier. He decided to stop at 200 lbs.

Matt has trained as an olympic weightlifter for several years. He went to Youth Nationals in Austin, TX in 2016. It was a heady moment for his dad and me to see him step out on the big platform and push himself to the absolute limit, crushing and surpassing the goals he had and his coach had set. He laid it all out on the platform and it paid off with big PRs.

Last year he took a break from training for nationals for various reasons--a wrist injury, a very demanding school schedule, lifting burn-out, but he still enjoys lifting for personal gain.

To look at him, you would never guess that this young man could move 200 lbs from the ground to his shoulders, but to watch him here, it appears almost effortless. He has the mental focus, the form, and the core strength to pull the weight up. He has the speed and agility to drop below it and catch it on his shoulders, then the leg, core, and back strength to stand it up. It's not only the strength--it's the perfection of form and execution that moves the weight. You might also notice that he seems a little dizzy at the end. To support his back and core he used a weightlifting belt and tightened it pretty tight. Weightlifting isn't always safe, and it certainly isn't easy.

Nothing worthwhile usually is.

This morning I was reading Francis Chan's book Crazy Love for the second time. I read it at about this time last year as well, and it is challenging me all over again. In chapter 7 he challenges readers to be uncomfortable--to do things that actually require faith.
Walking in genuine intimacy and full surrender to God requires great faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
He goes on to describe feeling very challenged when a Bible professor asked "What are you doing right now that requires faith?" and goes on to say,
But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.
I had to ask myself what I am doing that requires faith. What has me down on my knees pleading with God for direction and answers. The truth is that I have a very comfortable life, and it is very tempting to let the core get "squishy" and neglect the discipline of devotion, prayer, and worship.

It is tempting to neglect prayer for people I committed to pray for--does it really matter? It is tempting to dismiss God from the pedantic tasks of every day--He's needed so much more in other places. The fact is that if I don't trust him for every single thing, I am in trouble. My comfort is fleeting. It could be gone tomorrow. Can I face it if it vanishes? Have I prepared mentally, spiritually, and emotionally to be joyful in affliction? Can I move the heavy weight because I've been training for it?

Homeschooling is very daily. It is a big calling with lots, and lots, and lots of hours, days, and humdrum in-betweens. It is tempting to forget that it is God's and without my love for him as the central core of my efforts, I might as well quit. It is the dailiness of training the mind the heart and spirit that will enable us all to follow through when the going gets tough, unsafe, and heavy.

As we embark on the new school term in just over a week, I pray that we allow our faith to be challenged, that we look for the path that isn't safe, easy, or comfortable. As Sarah Mckenzie says in Teaching from Rest,  I pray that our little basket of bread and fish can be multiplied into a feast for the masses, because we had the faith to bring it. Right now, I'm pretty sure that is all I have.