The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I took a strength-training class at my high school. The first session was spent determining our maximum weight lifts on each piece of equipment. Then we spent the next six weeks doing short reps with increasing weight. By the end of that six weeks, I had increased my maximum weight lifts by an average of fifteen to twenty pounds.
Then I learned about endurance weight lifting during my cross country season. Instead of using a maximum weight, we used a minimum weight with increasing reps. Knowing I could do fewer reps with more weight made doing more reps with less weight…boring. I knew the muscle conditioning was good for me, but the motivation wasn’t as high. I didn’t see the same results that I saw in those six strength-training weeks. My muscles stayed the same size.
How could this be building strength?
I didn’t understand that endurance lifting is almost more important than strength lifting. As a mom of three boys, I had the physical strength to carry my sons and their paraphernalia up and down the stairs. But, it was the emotional, mental, and spiritual endurance I needed to be able to do this and more multiple times a day while repeating myself, telling them to be behave, telling myself to behave, and never mind that we had to have something for dinner. Add to that raising a child with special needs and home educating all three. Add to that revisiting the horrors of math. Those tasks required endurance.
In both cases, there was training and conditioning required for me and my family to do what needed to be done. There were “six-week heavy-lifts” that gave us short-term feats of success. But, the thirteen years of long-term lifting of textbooks, pencils, and heads off the pillows each morning were the often unseen accomplishments of daily endurance.
Here I am at the end of that home education race. I can be satisfied with the training and conditioning I helped my sons accomplish. Now I get to cheer from the sidelines.
But, what does this have to do with what our world is facing? Maybe in the beginning our six-week strength-training course known as “stay-at-home” fortified us physically in the short-term. But, I think we are now in the less-weight-more-reps stage known as building endurance. This pandemic is more than being physically healthy. It’s about being mentally and emotionally healthy. But, in my experience, being spiritually healthy is what has motivated me to be healthy in those other three areas. It is what builds me up so that I can build up others. The best weight lift I do in my life is when I pick up my Bible. What I study may not have much bearing on the things that burden my heart at the moment. But, that’s a rarity. I find daily strength in carrying the truth I gain from that discipline of reading God’s Word every day. If I miss a day, I feel it like the aching fatigue of unused muscles. So, if I may, let me encourage you. Pick up what I believe is the best strength-training guide for what we are facing. Let’s cheer one another on as we run this race together.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:13-14 NASB