Some people have life goals that exude courage, strength, stamina, and guts. You’ve heard about these life goals. Some want to climb an 18,000+ foot mountain, or bike across America, or run the Spanish Stairs in Rome, or swim the English Channel. Some even take the common goal of running a marathon and have the goal of finishing the Iron Man. No guts = no glory.
Let me tell you what my top life goal is. I want to NOT run a marathon. This may sound like an easy life goal for some. . . but. . . well, OK, this goal is easy and it can be accomplished without much effort. But the point is that I want to avoid that kind of extreme pain. Is it because I do not feel like I have anything to prove? Or, am I just a wimp.
I am the kind of guy that forgets how much of a blessing it is to have a healthy body. Let’s review shall we?
I had never missed a single athletic competition in my life until my junior year of high school. During that year I collapsed during a cross country race that I was supposed to win. For the rest of the year I battled with heavy legs, crazy lungs, and uneasy σπλάγχνα (splagk-na, Koine Greek for “guts.” Take that as you may). I still finished out the year as an All County runner and had a season best 17:41 for the 5k run.
At church people would ask me how I am feeling and how I was handling all of my body’s (maybe psychosomatic?) weirdness. During that time I thought humility was a big thing God was emphasizing in my life, or maybe He was trying to show me that there was more to life than athletics. One of those “let go of your idols” moments. Of course Romans 5:1-5 was a huge passage during that time. The end of this was going to be a greater amount of character. Right? Looking back, I think I missed out on a valuable lesson. Be grateful that I could run in the first place.
I may not have enjoyed the competitions during high school cross country as much as my older brother Tim (who went on to be a stud runner in college). For me, I started asking “why am I doing this?” once I hit the 1.5 – 2 mile mark. I enjoyed running, but not the pain.
Maybe I should have manned up a little bit.
Or, consider this. My freshman year of college I decided to play basketball. I went to the much touted Moody Bible Institute (sorry, THE Moody Bible Institute. Ya can’t forget the definite article!). Yes, I made the rigorous cut to make the team. Of the 15 of us that tried out, the 13 that stayed through the tryouts made the team. I played 18:56 the entire season. I was 2-4 from the field and 2-2 from the line, and had 3 rebounds, 2 fouls, and a turnover. Impressive, huh?
Part of the reason I played so few minutes was because I was sidelined for most of the season with sever ankle sprain. It was so bad that even a month and a half after the injury I was afraid to jump rope because of the pain. My ankle was royally messed up. But, what was mostly messed up was my head. I was accomplishing one of my childhood dreams. I was playing college ball! On top of that, I had been cut from my high school varsity team. Can you call me a potential ESPN 1 hr. special?
No, I was a freshman who was not happy with the offensive style of the team, his lack of friends, and how basketball was 2-3 hours a day of rehab for most of the season. In sum, I was a wimp. This was an emotional wimpiness since I was not able to see the benefit of being around a sport I deeply love. I was more focused on what I was unhappy with, and not the blessing. I had the talent to be a contributor to the team, but my head kept me from being the blessing I should have been that season.
All that background (OK, sorry for the hyperbole. Those two background stories), was to help explain how today I realized I am a wimp. I have been dealing with a cold (or maybe the flu) on and off for a month (maybe 2.. or 3). Basically, I could say that ever since I went to seminary I have felt an itchy throat, congestion, dry eyes, or sinus drainage (Yes, please, feel bad for me and leave all your medical advice in the comments box). I just haven’t felt 100%.
Well, whoop-dee-doo. How can I complain? I know at least 4 friends that have Crohn’s disease (if you want to know what it is, here http://www.crohnsonline.com). This disease is crippling and very painful. It makes daily life a task. What do my friends do? They live life. Or think about my one friend who has to have shots in her lower abdomen to stop the severe muscle spasms, as well as having lupus and kidney problems. Is this keeping her from graduating early from Michigan State University or being one of the sweetest girls I know? Nope.
I could go on about the other friends and family I know that have had to endure cancer, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, or eye surgery. Or I could talk about Tim’s mountain biking accident where he lost 6 teeth and had 50 stitches yet climbed Mt. Harvard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Harvard) 2 days later, but I won’t (sounds like Heb. 11:32ff doesn’t it?) since there are too many stories to share.
God is good. God created this world good. He declared humanity His finest creation. Unfortunately sin entered the world, and with sin came sickness, destruction, and death. Amazingly enough God used these abominations which are a result of sin to conquer sin by sending Jesus to take suffer for us, and to die for us, and to raise to life for us that we would not have to live under the captivity of sin and its consequences ( Isaiah 53; 1 Cor. 1:18-2:5; Col. 2:8-15). Maybe I need to stop complaining about my momentary annoyances and discomforts and be grateful for all God has given me.
Maybe, I should continue life as one who truly is deeply grateful.