Faith: Small Weights, Lots of Reps
A handful of people I talk to seem bewildered—or concerned—by some strange internal constitution that would make us attempt Africa with four kids. (It seems there’s such a thin line between brave and stupid…) Let me be clear: This journey has indicated that I am no superwoman. But though I’m constantly wrestling with whatever new fear has reared its ugly head, this whole thing doesn’t seem like a big leap. It feels like the next step of trust in a series of various-sized trusts—trusts like the ones normal moms face all the time.
I’ve been enjoying (hmm; not the right word) a new workout DVD lately designed to offer me a “fast start” on whipping this genetically-challenged body into shape with 20 minutes a day. With my recent to-do lists (as in, trying to move our family out of our house) this was about all I could eke out. And eke is exactly the right word. Basically, the victim/workout-ee does a revolting number of reps (read: 55 per exercise) with small weights which initially fool one into thinking that this workout is going to be as easy as eating last night’s Oreos. By the end, said victim’s upper body or lower body feels a little like muscular frosting smashed between two cookies. It’s a spectacular concept.
Nicely, however, I do see a difference from the various workouts I so poorly master. Moving out furniture with my husband the other day, I felt the benefit of some of those deep lunges, or those crazy hammer-curls. Never know when all that working out is going to do something other than keep me from lopping over the top of my jeans.
And it mimics the faith-building that God’s been doing in our little yellow tri-level. Through small weights with a lot of reps, each day and long before we started this strange pilgrimage, God has been patiently preparing us for fitness of a new kind. A lot of times, my worn-out faith feels like a bowl full of jelly. (Hmm. Or like it’s been snacking on Oreos.) But with the help of something like faith protein shakes—uncanny acts of God’s generosity and faithfulness that keep revealing themselves—I feel Him galvanizing us. Proving Himself over and over: When I lost my job. When we got in that car wreck when I was nine months pregnant. When we had two unexpected pregnancies. When we had four kids four and under. Or with smaller weights: The energy to get through the next day. The wisdom to know what to do with that kid. The faith that filling sippy cups and wiping—hmm, everything—has eternal significance. You know what faith is like in motherhood. You’ve been there.
For each unbelievable jag in God’s path for any of us, there’s a faith He grants for the direction He beckons. And that faith changes us. I see that in so many of you that I know: In my friend whose mother passed away after three years of a God-honoring, grueling circuit with cancer. In another friend who lost her child before she gave birth. In so many of you young moms who daily find purpose in the small, unremarkable tasks that amount to the muscular faith that is motherhood. In ways painful and repetitive and sweetly generous, He gives us what we need. He prepares us for the weight of glory.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
When I look at Scripture, the true heroes are people that believed God: Mary and Joseph. Abraham, of the sacrifice-my-son variety. David, of the throw-a-stone-at-Goliath-without-armor brand. Few of them arrived at these faith blockbusters with inflatable faith muscles. Our constant experiences and awareness of God’s goodness and faithfulness repeats our answer to a central question: What do we believe about God? It’s the answer that separates Eve—who disbelieved God, trusting her own understanding of Him—from Mary.
My mom actually laid some of this foundation for trust in God’s care with her quiet, constant care of me. For example, as a kid, I was not a hot lunch kind of gal. My sweet mother packed my lunch every school day for pretty much all four of us through high school. (I don’t even want to do the math on how many sandwich bags that woman stuffed.) Awhile back when my mom and I were talking about faith, long after my brown bag days were over. She mentioned that I never came down the stairs in the morning, wringing my hands because I didn’t know if my mom was going to pack my lunch. I didn’t have some kind of unfair expectation, she said but the reality is, my bag was always ready and waiting when I flew out the door. Now, when I think about Africa, often that phrase comes to mind: God has always packed our lunch.
Wonder if He’ll throw in some Oreos.
Tell us: What faith-building experiences have changed you?