Article 3 : Thoughts from the cross trainer
It’s 6 years this month since I was looking in the loft for something. That led to me doing a grand ‘sort out’ of all the stuff up there. (I have to admit that I’m a great one for sorting and cleaning!) When I say that we’ve been in this house nearly 50 years, you can imagine the amount of ‘stuff’ that was up there!
On one of the trips to take things down, I missed my step on the loft ladder, crashed to the floor and shattered the tibial plateau (the knee-y bit) of my left leg. This resulted in an operation to insert a plate, followed by 8 weeks of downstairs living. In the rest of that year I had another 3 ‘freak’ trips and falls that all resulted in further soft tissue damage to that knee.
As soon as I recovered, I realised that I’d need to start some specific exercises to strengthen all the tissue around that joint. So, as soon as I got up in the morning, I began to don my tracksuit and go down to our garage where the torture equipment (– that is, the cross trainer) resides.
I only do 15 minutes but it really gets the heart rate up and has done wonders for my leg. (Please allow me to feel a wee bit smug here when I say that I’m still doing this 6 years later – I promise I’ll repent when I’m done!)
I use this time at the start of my day to connect with Jesus. It’s a great time to bless my family, friends, street and ‘Second Team at Sulgrave’ and address any urgent prayer needs but first, this is the scripture I start by saying out loud each day:
Psalm 103: 1–4
"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases, who redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion."
The more eagle-eyed of you will spot that I’ve ‘personalised’ the pronouns in the second verse so that I’m very purposefully and intentionally speaking it over myself.
I love that the first thing in this psalm is an encouragement to me to “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name”.
This is very much in line with what Pastor Tim has been saying to us for some time now – FIRST, look to the Lord and intentionally put your gaze on Him and worship Him, and do it wholeheartedly; and he also always encourages us to give Jesus the first and the best.
The scripture then reminds us that He is holy.
I love how A. W. Tozer puts it in his book ‘The Knowledge of the Holy’:
“He is the absolute quintessence of moral excellence, infinitely perfect in righteousness, purity, rectitude and incomprehensible holiness. And in all this He is uncreated, self-sufficient and beyond the power of human thought to conceive or human speech to utter.”
We could never have imagined such a holy God but we just stand amazed at how our God has revealed His essence and character to us throughout the scriptures and how, by His Holy Spirit, He enables us to get a glimpse of this truth.
Like Isaiah in Chapter 6, when he had a vision of the Lord and saw the angelic beings crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” and cried out “Woe to me! I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips”, we stand in awe of Him and in our natural man know that we could never enter His presence. YET, this same holy God opens His arms wide to us and welcomes us to come close, because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
What an incredible privilege we have to run into the arms of the Father, especially in these unprecedented days of just about every aspect of our lives being shaken up in ways we could never have imagined. I love the scripture in Isaiah 40:11:
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
Yes, our God is holy and we sometimes feel that all we can do is kneel before Him in silence, wonder and awe but He’s also revealed Himself to us as Abba, Daddy God who loves to lift us up in His arms, close to His heart.
Let’s just allow that truth to permeate every fibre of our being and bring us peace.
We can quite easily get overwhelmed if we look at the output of the rolling TV news channels in these difficult days but let’s encourage each other to remember that OUR GOD REIGNS and He IS working out His purposes in these challenging circumstances.
It’s become my practice, whenever fear would seek to come into my mind, to speak out that truth: OUR GOD REIGNS! And then to take a moment to deliberately look into His face and choose to (really) listen to His voice, as Pastor Tim exhorted us to do on Sunday (29th March):
See the joy in the eyes of Jesus.
Hear the certainty in Jesus’ voice.
Find kindness and compassion in His smile.
In that way, He brings us back to that place of peace and confidence in Him and a sense of anticipation of what the Lord will do in and through these days.