h1

“PULL-UPS” – Jan 24

January 24, 2014

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:1-2

Now drop and give me twenty!

The other morning was an unpleasant flashback to my high school P.E.  days where I was required to complete pull-ups in demonstration of my fitness.  I was able to do one pull-up with the assistance of the “gimme hop” but then I would flop about, hanging from the pull-up bar like a fish proudly displayed on a stringer.  I could not do a pull-up to save my life.

I completed the P90X program about two years ago.  Mr. Tony Horton is a great proponent of pull-ups and their many variations.  I did not have a pull-up bar at the time so I did my “chin-up equivalent” exercise on my Bowflex.  I was feeling rather good about  the fact that I was maxing out the “bows” with respectable sets of repetitions.

English: ATSUGI, Japan (Feb. 3, 2011) Tony Hor...That was until I purchased P90X3.   Horton is  still a great proponent of pull-ups.  He does pull-ups in the video with such ease that one has to question with him, “where’s gravity?”

Last weekend I installed an actual pull-up bar in our basement.

I was reminded that pull-ups are a lot harder than Mr. Horton makes them look.

Marines pull-up for America's birthday

I got my first “gimme hop” pull-up in but on the descent I knew I was in trouble.  There I was, in all my past high school glory, doing the same fish flop at the end of extended arms.  My delusion of “pull-up equivalent” strength was quickly crushed under my own weight.  I was forced to complete the work-out with the assistance of having my legs propped up on a chair while my back struggled to heft my bulk.

The presence of gravity is not questioned when I do pull-ups.

My difficulties with pull-ups spurred me to contemplate the reality that Christians are not very good at granting grace to either those who are strong or weak in their faith.

I am amazed and encouraged by the faithfulness of Gladys Staines.  I posted a quote from her  QUOTE (Gladys Staines) – Jan 23.  Often, we observe our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, such as Mrs. Staines, go through incredible difficulties with what appears to be ease.  It may not appear that the cares of the world are weighing them down in the slightest.  They appear to handle difficulties as easily as Tony Horton does a pull-up.  However, the apparent ease and grace of their actions does not mean what they are enduring is easy.

Regarding the martyrdom of her husband and two sons, Mrs. Staines said the following:

I feel sad that I do not get to see my sons growing up. Christ has been my companion, but at times I miss the support of my husband.  God gives me great support, and the prayers of people has been a source of great consolation…

Isometric exercise: one armed pull-ups

I am reminded of all those people in my life whose faith appears so strong that I underestimate the difficulty of their trial.  The reality is that I have never had to walk their path.  God shows the strong amazing grace and gives them their strength to endure but that does not mean in the quiet of the night they don’t battle sadness and discouragement. The strong still need support and prayer.

I remember when my wife and I walked the difficult path through infertility.  In retrospect, we did not handle that period as well as either of us would have liked.  It was a time  my wife and I were learning to do real spiritual pull-ups.  It was plain to most who were watching that we were struggling.  We were chastised by a few for our reservation in sharing in the excitement of others who were experiencing the joys that we deeply wanted.

English: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2010) El...

While there was truth in the admonition, the demeaning tone was of a person who thought they were strong when they had never actually walked our road.  Their opinions on our behavior were derived from “spiritual equivalents” that did not grant them an understanding of the difficulty that we felt.  We could have used more grace and understanding as we were growing in our faith – even though we were not handling it very well.

Most of the time, I don’t know if I am the weaker or stronger brother.  I don’t think it really matters.

It does not really matter that someone is doing the spiritual equivalent of the pull-up fish-flop in an area that I can endure with ease.

What matters is that they are still on the bar of faith.

It does not really matter that my strength may not be equivalent and I cannot relate to the strength needed to carry the cross that God has given to some of my sister or brother in Christ.

What matters is that they are still on the bar of faith.

Faith is not defined by how easy we make it look.  Faith is not dependent upon us walking through life in a manner that makes it look like the cares of this world don’t weigh us down.  Likewise, our faith is not less real if we are barely hanging on, desperately squirming under what feels to be too hard to bear.

Our eternal security rests in a faith that continues to cling to Christ, no matter if that appears powerfully glorious or pitifully weak.  We hang on.

Christians, may we all learn to show more grace and understanding to our fellow heirs in Christ. May we learn what it means to show love to the strong and the weak alike.  May we learn to encourage our fellow brothers and sisters to grow in our faith and above all – never let go of Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to encourage those who are yours.  Forgive me for being judgemental regarding temptations, trials and struggles that I just don’t understand.  Forgive me for not praying for those who are enduring well.  Forgive my actions that may have caused some to want to give up.  Father, I want to encourage my brothers and sisters to hang on despite how their faith may currently look.  Teach me how to do that.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta

12 comments

  1. Thank you for a wonderful post, a real eye-opener!


  2. What an insightful way of relating to our faith and others. “The bar of faith” – I love that! This is not only helpful, but very encouraging.

    Thank you, JD.


  3. JD. I love this. My husband and I have had to endure scorn from others over how we have handled, by barely hanging on at times, a prodigal child. Your words have really encouraged me, how the important thing is that although we have not been perfect parents, we have never quit clinging to Christ. We have also learned through this difficult journey that before you criticize another, walk in his or her shoes.


  4. This really blessed me 🙂


  5. How can a Marine not love a pull-up analogy?! Great post!


  6. This was a very powerful post. Most of us have known strong physical people who have been disabled in a moments time. People say….I knew them when! Some of those people finally recover but some never return to their “former fighting strength”! My experience has been we “cut a lot more slack” for the physically disabled. Spiritual disability is an ugly sight…far more repulsive to fellow Christians than the physically disabled. We can all laugh about a physical “fish-flop”. But what is our real reaction as we watch those brothers and sisters do “spiritual fish-flops”. I remember once I couldn’t even hang onto the pole….You know what, I had a Christian friend “get down in the dirt beside me” and say….Can you see Jesus’s robe…..reach out and grab onto it and don’t let go!! Lord, help me to be like my friend! Thanks John for a very insightful post…


  7. Great!


  8. So insightful, J.D. Keep writing this way. And I’ve never been able to tread water. Oh well.


  9. Thank you JD, your posts are so insightful and full of true grace. Excellent analogy. God bless you 🙂


  10. Such a great comfort…knowing that HOW I hang on is far less important than the fact that I DO hang on. Thank you for this reminder of the value of substance over style.


  11. I’m with Nancy, JD. I too have been guilty of not praying for the strong. Great insight–very convicting. Excellent post!


  12. Oh, yes–“Forgive me for not praying for those who are enduring well.” JD, you’ve turned the light on a need that I have overlooked. Thank you for your insight!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: