When I was 13 I reported to the weight room for my first workout. Sixth grade was over and I had the summer to prepare for junior high football. The first order of business was to “max out” so the coaches could determine an appropriate weight-training program for me.
There were a plethora of humiliations that day. Here was the worst. The coach tells me to lie down on the bench press and get warmed up by pumping the bar a few times. “Don’t put any weight on it,” he says. “Just the bar. Something easy to get you loose.”
“Right, no problem.”
I lie back on the bench, grip the bar, and lift it off the rack. Shaking, I lower it down to my chest and heave. Nothing happens.
I try again.
By the time the coach rescues me from death, all eyes are on the kid who can’t lift 45 pounds.
I wanted so badly to be strong.
And I wasn’t.
Have you ever longed for a strength you didn’t have?
In the Bible, St. Paul says that the God who began a good work in us will see that it’s completed.
Which means we are all a work in progress. We are all still becoming.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, “I’m not the person I imagined I would be?”
I have. It feels awful. If you feel that way today, know this: God’s not done with you. There are days to become what He has called you to be.
Some guy said me, “It’s only a matter of time until the world blows itself up. Watch the news! People keep getting worse. There’s no saving us.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” I said.
“Because,” I said, “God finishes what He starts. And when He created us, He said we were good. And when we got off track, He came to redeem us and give us a second chance.”
But this takes time. Faith isn’t a steady climb toward perfection; there are valleys and deserts along the way.
The key is to walk on through them.
After that first day in the gym I never wanted to go back.
But I did.
Because I couldn’t lift the bar the coach had me take one of the circular weight plates, which weighed less than 45 pounds, and use it for my exercises.
It was humiliating.
A popular kid named Jack walked in, saw what I was doing, and said, “No, Ryan, you’re supposed to take the weights and put them on the end of the bar. Here let me show you.”
“I know but coach told me to do it like this.”
“Because,” I whispered, “I can’t lift the bar. This is all I can do.”
Jack eyed me a long moment, glanced at the other boys, and said, “Yeah, of course.” He slapped me on the back. “Keep it up then. You’re doing fine.”
Keep it up. You’re doing fine.
If you keep moving toward God in the valley, either in sprint or in crawl, you will make it.
How do I know?
God finishes what He starts.