Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

So weird...

So tonight, here in Colorado where I'm teaching, I tell the story of how Jacob, in Genesis, is terrified of his family with his brother. This, of course, is understandable, because the last time he was with his brother, Esau held himself back from killing Jacob for no other reason than to spare his dying father the grief of Jacob's death. But now, with dad dead, Jacob's worried. Genesis 32 reveals all kinds of strange plans that that Jacob concocts in order to preserve himself.

But, to make a long story short, dear Jacob, alone on the wrong side of the river, wrestles with God, and the result of this is that he's wounded. In his wounded condition though, he strangely finds the courage to face his brother honestly, something that wasn't even on the radar screen until the wound. I personally think that Jacob, with two good legs, always had the "run away" card in his back pocket when he pondered the prospect of encounter his crazed brother.

But now, with the wound, with running away being unavailable as an option, Jacob behaves like a man of courage, and the story (at least that chapter of Jacob's story) has a happy ending. But the courage came from Jacob coming to the end of it, and there, at end of strength and plans, he finds the courage to do the right thing.

I've been struggling with a sticky back this past week, in rebellion because of stress, because of too much sitting, because of...who knows? But I've been hobbling around, all the time thinking that yoga (corpse pose? are you kidding me... who named that) and other strange 'restorative' poses would make me feel better. Instead: disaster! Muscle spasms, painful wakings in the night when I try to turn over, and other disasters, all clear signs that rest, massage, and behaving like a corpse was, strangely enough, killing me.

Well today, when looking at the corpse on youtube, I discovered 'crossfit' in the related videos section. I read their magazine, and their theory, and decided: "I've nothing to lose." So I painfully sat up off the chair. Starting carefully, I did 100 jumping jacks, and the 25 burpees, and then 25 squats, and then I jumped up and down the stairs 25 times, and then I did 10 push ups and waited to die. Instead, I found some other crossfit exercise, whose name I can't remember, and did it. I heard this sound from deep in my spine, felt this rearrangement, and when I got up off the floor, I was pain free! Fatigued a bit, and terribly out of breath, since I am staying at 9000' this week, but my back felt better than any massage, rest, or corpse pose had been able to achieve.

Remarkable. Everything says, 'rest' and yet when I got up and did something, it was the doing that was just what I needed. But I wasn't open to anything new until all the usual suspects (yoga, sleep, aspirin, ice, massage) had failed me. Only at the end of it, are we open to the answer that we really need. It's true throughout life... when I'm at the end of my strength, I'm open to Christ's. When I'm at the end of my options, I'm open to prayer. When I'm at the end of my resources, I'm open to help and fellowship from others. When I'm at the end of my human wisdom, I'm ready to listen to what God has to say. In reality... I'm already at the end - across the whole board. That's the point Jesus was trying to make when he said, "Apart from me you can't do anything" - the best you can give me is corpse pose bro'." Well, the sooner I realize that, the sooner I'm open to a better solution. Ironic that all this spiritual learning is coming from a secular exercise community called "crossfit". But hey, they probably won't do your back any harm either!


At 3/4/08 23:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Richard that's so funny and weird - not because of what you did - no, it's because how God answered my prayer (questions)!!! - sitting here in Austria - half around the world :)!
A joyful "Servus!" from here!

At 4/4/08 08:48, Blogger Joanie said...

It's so true, Richard. Why is it that we seem to "try this" and "try that" ~ running to and fro to find the most "logical" answer to our needs and when we finally realize that it's not working - God provides a different way and victory is achieved?!

May the Lord continue to keep your back and body in a state of healing, peace and strength while blessing your teaching this week with His awesome anointing! Have your way Lord Jesus...

At 4/4/08 12:45, Blogger Kyle said...

Odd that you found this excersise when you did. I was just chatting about it with my old neighbor last night. He found it and has enjoyed the variety of workouts. In fact he has been tagged with leading his shift at the firestation where he works because there have been a number of back injuries lately.

Kyle Tyler

At 4/4/08 14:17, Anonymous Wayne F. Bays said...

Why does it always seem to suprise us that we continually need to come to the end of ourselves to find the beginning of Yahweh?
Here's to finding the end of ourselves much sooner and more often.
"By myself, I can do nothing" Yehoshua John 5:30
Wayne Bays.

At 6/4/08 09:14, Blogger Graham said...

Richard.... I have the exact same story (minus the preparing to teach about Jacob and Esau in Colorado). My back was so bad last weekend and I tried rest, rest, stretching and advil. At the point of decision whether to stay home or go to work (I have an active job as a remodeling contractor)... I chose physical labor and I could feel it warming up throughout the day and my back has been feeling better and better since!
I moved 80 concrete blocks in the garden yesterday and no pack pain. (plenty of fatigue though.... got any stories about that:)


At 7/4/08 08:39, Blogger The Courter Family! said...

huh! Justin has had chronic neck pain and back issues for 4 years now...seen every doctor that specializes in every neck issue 'under the sun' and still, nothing. It's so frustrating because he's unable to enjoy the outdoor activities and God's creation as he once used to.
hmmmm, maybe I'll have him check this out! why not, right?! Thanks for sharing :)

At 10/4/08 01:41, Anonymous Jeff Chalfant said...

Another weird thing is that I teach CrossFit and I'm starting a CrossFit gym. And I go to your church!


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