Whole Life Challenge: Day Three

Today I lifted a significant amount of weights for the first time in several years. I used to have a home gym, but it was a loaner. Getting ready for the Whole Life Challenge, I kept my eyes open for a used gym on Craigslist. Today I had my first real workout.

About half an hour after working out, I was sitting on the floor after stretching. I went to press on the edge of the couch to stand up when the bench press and pull-downs struck my chest muscles. They were sore, tired, and were happy to have me fall asleep on the floor. As I type I can feel each individual muscle tighten as I type and reach for the mouse. I never knew I used my chest muscles when using my computer. I was going to go to a town meeting tonight, but I don’t think I can lift up my shoes in order to put them on.

There’s an old phrase: “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” There’s a theory that this saying originated out of an interpretation/translation of Proverbs 16:27. I don’t see the connection between that verse and the old saying.

The implication of that old saying is that keeping busy keeps a person out of trouble. I can understand that logic. In my case, it is hard to be stressed about life in the future when you are worried about getting off the ground without muscle cramps. If I had to tie this into a gospel scripture, I would say that Matthew 6:34 in the NRSV covers it: “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

The weights are enough trouble for today. Tomorrow will have to take care of itself.

Let us Seek: Flowers in the cold

The last few nights have been very cold in the town of Maine, NY. I have gone to sleep with a prayer on my lips as I curled up into my bed. Each morning I have gone outside to check on the tomato plants and marigolds that have been hiding under burlap covers. I have pulled aside the cover and I have expected the worst case scenario to have taken place. This is what I saw as I pulled aside the burlap this morning…

Oh! The horror of it! A bright orange flower greeted me in the midst of happy tomato and carrot plants…

This beauty of a red and orange blossom also had been clearly struggling with the weather.

I had assumed that the very worst case scenario had occurred. Nothing had gone wrong with the plants. I had the same fear the night before, but nothing had gone wrong with the plants. I have assumed that something terrible would happen every night of this weekend. Nothing went wrong with the plants. They are all perfectly fine.

I occasionally have to remind myself of something very basic. I don’t need to go looking for trouble. Theodore Roosevelt was once quoted as saying “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” George Washington is quoted as saying “Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.” Jesus clearly taught that we should not worry about tomorrow. Consider this passage from Matthew 6:28b-33: (NRSV)

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I know these statements hold a lot of wisdom. I still catch myself being needlessly worried. Am I really so worried about tomato plants? Why do I choose to live in fear of a summer without tomato sandwiches? Why am I concerned that there won’t be enough tomatoes to sauce and preserve for quick meals when we’re all tired after the baby is born? Why do I choose to live this way? What does that say about my own relationship with God?

I’m clearly not in the same league as those flower blossoms. May God bless me with wisdom as I slow down to enjoy them before their season in the sunshine comes and goes.