Points to Ponder: God's Gym
Points to Ponder
How big do the obstacles seem? Are you carrying a burden that seems to be beyond your capacity?
In the early years of our marriage, back in B.C. (Before Children), we would go to the gym together. At one particular facility we found, there was a line of Nautilus machines. Using the upper body machines involved sitting on an upright high back seat with a stack of weights plates, attached to a chain and pulley system, behind it. Marcella sat in the machine, ready to lift the bars. I set the pin in the weight I felt she could handle and gave her the go-ahead. She strained at it for a second, saying it was too heavy. I said, "Okay." Then I pulled out the pin and shoved it right back into the same place. "Now try that," I said. She went with it, lifting it several times.
Interesting observation. She probably thought she couldn't lift it at first because it was me choosing the weight back there where she couldn't see. Knowing how over-zealous her husband was, he of course picked a HEAVY setting.
Then, without looking back, she assumed I removed the pin and set it into a lower weight. Did she suddenly gain a massive amount of lifting capacity in that thirty-second interval between when I pulled the pin and then replaced it? No. She had the capacity all along. Being oh-so-wise, I of course knew that (and was even wiser in that I didn't brag about it).
Sometimes we don't know our own capabilities. We wind up under a load we will have to lift. But only the eyes of the Lord can see how heavy it really is. He knows what we can bear. It is tough to hear that when you are the one pushing the load that seems to gain weight with every passing moment. But there is One who knows the temptations, trials, and tests of life from a perspective you can not perceive.
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Isn't it interesting that it says He gives us a "way of escape;" but it's not so that you can get away from the test or the temptation? It's not so that you can get out from under the burden. It's a "way of escape" that equips you to "be able to bear it." Well, what kind of escape is that?
Here's the escape: you finally confess and realize that you can't do it alone. You escape the prideful notion that it's all up to you.
In the weight room, no wise person will attempt to lift a heavy weight without a "spotter," someone there to encourage the one who's under that heavy burden; one who can assist in the lift if need be without taking it away from the lifter. The spotter watches intently and understands how hard this effort is, and knowing how much the lifter can bear and for how long.
Jesus Christ is the Spotter in the weight room of life. He's done the work out.
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted (or tested) as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
The proverb tells the lone rangers among us that it is not the test or the temptation that will bring you down. It is the self-centered way with which you are handling it.
"Pride goes before destruction and a haughty (arrogant) spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18).
I recall a time when I worked out alone with an Olympic barbell bench press. At the end of a strained ninth lift, I went for a tenth one and I couldn't do it. Gradually it descended upon my chest; I was stuck. Alone. Fortunately, I left the collar locks off the ends. I tilted it and the big weights slid off to the floor with a CRASH. Without a spotter I needed to leave it unsecured, just in case.
But life doesn't usually permit us to just drop it on the floor. The temptations and testings "which are common to man" (1 Corinthians 10:13) can crush you if you are too proud to accept the "escape" which God has provided. You need the Spotter who will help you bear what you can not lift by yourself.
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:50pm, both days); and every Sunday from 7:30-7:45am on "Consider This." www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com