Day after day I’m blessed to watch the ladies I coach at CrossFit get stronger and achieve things they never thought possible. For example, my friend Holly spent her first few weeks of CrossFit performing complex movements like snatches and clean and jerks with a PVC pipe. Today she can press a sixty-pound bar over her head, deadlift 105 pounds five times, and squat eighty-five pounds with a smile on her face.
Another woman I coach, Merrily, started out last May only able to speed-walk two-hundred meters (0.12 miles) at a time. And she complained about it non-stop! (I love you, M! 😉 ) Now, she actually likes running, so much so that while I was away over Christmas, she e-mailed me her “Map My Run” routes, which were always over a mile long. She also has added 140 pounds to her deadlift max and can press me over her head (well, my weight anyway!).
JoLynn started CrossFitting with Merrily in my garage last summer and, like most women new to CrossFit, had to use a resistance band to do pull-ups. Today, she can do pull-ups unassisted and makes the boys cry by beating them in WODs like today’s 15 minute AMRAP (“as many rounds as possible”) of 10 20-inch box jumps alternated with 20 double-unders. She completed eleven rounds plus ten box jumps!
These are just a few examples of the progress I’m privileged to celebrate. Their victories remind me of this verse:
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage … They go from strength to strength…” Psalm 84:5-7 (NKJV, emphasis mine).
These ladies’ journeys from “strength to strength,” from PVC to barbell, from lightly loaded barbells to a 250-pound deadlift, from resistance bands to unassisted, bodyweight pull-ups reflect what their hearts are set on: pilgrimage.
Merriam-Webster defines “pilgrimage” as “journey of a pilgrim; especially : one to a shrine or a sacred place.”
What sets followers of Christ who work out apart from non-believers who work out is the overarching aspiration to bring God glory through the tasks our fitness fuels us to accomplish. While fitting into a pair of jeans better or warding off diseases like osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes are certainly commendable motivators, it’s honoring God with our “shrine,” our “sacred place,” – this temple called our body – that ultimately inspires us to run, row, jump, lift, and sweat our way to better health. On days when the sofa is, without exaggeration, a bazillion and a half times more appealing than the gym, or pizza for lunch for a third consecutive day is tempting our taste buds, remembering why we’re chasing after fitness and for Whom is an immediate breath of fresh, exhortative air.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”- Romans 12:1
Constantly striving to become stronger, to become faster, to become more proficient at double-unders, and countless other athletic feats is a seamless metaphor for our lives as Christ-followers: Wherever you are in your walk with God, the path is never-ending and ever-steepening, beautifully, uniquely, creatively carved for each of us to grow and journey upon until we reach the final peak where we’ll be clothed with bodies perfect and imperishable.
Until then, stay fit, stay faithful ~<3 Di
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” -1st Corinthians 15:54 (NIV).