I've been trying to find a rhythm of time these days. Something that could provide a sense of schedule now that I've lost the routine of going to work in the morning.
Enter: the gym.
I have been going to the gym while my son is in preschool. I workout during that window of time when I find myself jobless and kidless, with the potential to fall down the click-holes of the Internet if I'm not mindful. Losing my time and footing feels especially risky in this season of wandering and waiting.
I've been trying to get back in the habit of going to the gym anyway, hoping to lose some weight and gain some health. So, there seemed no better time to start than now.
The gym carries its own holes I could slip into, old habits of obsession and eating disorders, fears of looking as awkward and out-of-shape as I feel, shame about the size of my frame, anxiety that this endeavor in the end will be some sort of failure. I have been swallowing hard, and going to the gym anyway.
I was on the lateral elliptical machine, listening to a podcast sermon from my friend, Micah. It was an introduction to the book of Hebrews, in which one of the opening verses says this,
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. - Hebrews 1:3
If Jesus is the exact representation of God, then any picture we hold of who God is that is not in line with what we know of Jesus, is wrong.
At the end, Micah challenged everyone to participate in a prayer exercise, to release to God a picture we are holding of who He is, and allow Him to replace that with a picture of Jesus.
Explanations of experiential service elements are usually the point of a podcast when I press skip and move on to the next sermon. Something is lost for me when I wasn't there to participate in them live and in-person.
But this time, I didn't press skip. I closed my eyes and wondered if God might meet me right there, at the gym, in the space between.
The day before, I had been wondering if God was indifferent towards me.
My failures and my shortcomings seemed more visible than His goodness, and I wondered if He could, if He would, provide me a job I would love. I wondered if He cared about something that seems so trivial in comparison to the needs of this world.
I don't think I actually believe God is indifferent, but sometimes the things we don't believe feel more real than the faith we wish we had.
Eyes closed, moving in the rhythm of the elliptical machine, I gave the word "indifferent" to God, and asked Him to replace it with an image of Jesus. Skeptical, I might add, that He would actually do it.
Before I had time to think, I saw Jesus washing my feet.
I've heard it said that Jesus washing the disciples' feet was a great act of servanthood. Though that's true, it was also a beautiful embodiment of intimacy. Touching feet is not something we do when we are indifferent towards someone. Taking off someone's sandal, putting their foot in water, scrubbing their toes clean, these are all intentional acts that require closeness and time.
I imagine Jesus wiping my feet while He looks at me with a gleam in His eyes, the kind of satisfied look you see in the face of a loved one after the shared richness of deep conversation. I imagine Jesus gently wiping my feet until all the filth- the sweat, the fear, and the shame- is washed away by his love.
I open my eyes and slow down. My workout is done, and it's time to get off the machine.
I walk away hoping this picture of God will last longer than the post-workout high.
Do you have a picture of God that needs to be replaced with a picture of Jesus? God might just give you a vision if you ask for one. Even if you ask at the gym.