Most days it takes a lot of effort to get my rear on the treadmill. Not because I have ginormous rear – although it most certainly isn’t dainty. I was pretty plus before plus was pretty. I simply struggle to get excited about the hamster race. I would much rather walk outside but when the cold blows in, I burrow inside the house like a hedgehog ten days late for hibernation.
The dreadmill is in my bedroom. In the evening when I walk past it to go to my bathroom, I avoid eye contact. But I can feel it looking at me. It looks a lot like my mother when I would tell her a new story about the guy I was seeing who was totally wrong for me. It’s the look of “I love you. I want what’s best for you. You’re making a HUGE mistake. If you don’t figure this out soon, I’m going to have to go ‘Dr. Phil’ on you.” I know the treadmill wants what is best for me and I’ll feel better if I spend some time with it but sometimes I just don’t want to. I may or may not have stomped my foot when I typed that last line.
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve worked out and felt awesome afterwards. It doesn’t matter that just the day before I worked out and felt renewed. My short term memory is noncommittal. Today we’re back to playing hard to get.
I was thinking about this tonight while I was walking and listening to a podcast of Pete Wilson from Crosspoint Church in Tennessee. It is the “Your Burning Bush” sermon which was the first in a new series called Wide Awake. Any sermon that references both Katy Perry and Elizabeth Barrett Browning deserve your attention. Wilson was encouraging people to be wide awake to see God in the ordinary. How much more ordinary can you get than a dreadmill?
And, lo and behold, I saw God at a 5% incline at 3.2 mph.
Personally, I don’t really have to do much work on the treadmill – as you can see from my previously noted incline and speed. I’m not training for an olympic record, or any record for that matter. I just need to show up and be willing to walk. Be present, keep up and embrace the journey (and the handles) for what it is – a journey. The hardest part for me is showing up. I’ve got a million and one excuses for skipping out on it but on the days where I step up and hit start I never regret it. Never.
I’ve got a million and one excuses for skipping out on resting with God. Fifty percent of those excuses reek of religion. Forty-nine percent I attribute to my “issues”. The remaining one percent are legit. And by “legit” I mean God ticked me off and we are “getting some space and perspective”.
But on the days when I forgo the excuses and step up to be present with God, I never regret it. Never.
No agenda. No spiritual quota to fulfill. No foil star on a chart. I just show up and walk with God in order to receive rather than achieve. Receive God’s goodness and love. Receive His grace and mercy. Receive Her courage and wisdom. Receive God’s revelation of where He is at work in order to join Him.
Author Ruth Haley Barton says in her book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, that
the practice of paying attention [to God] awakens us to what is extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. As we live our lives in humble response to the One who is calling to us out of the burning bush in our own lives, we discover that we are standing on holy ground more often than we think.
Although at the beginning of the night I would rather have been sitting on holy ground, I’m grateful that God called out to me from the NordicTrak T 8.0 to remind me of the pleasure I receive by abiding in His presence. I’m also really grateful that I was so moved by the revelation that I had to take of my shoes ….. literally.
In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees take off his shoes – the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries
Will you join me in looking with fresh eyes this week to see God in the ordinary? I would love to hear where you see Him but most importantly I hope you will join me in simply taking off our shoes and abiding with Him in those holy moments.