It's a new year and people are filled with resolve to start or stop doing something. I just returned from Planet Fitness -- it was like the first day of Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving. Every treadmill, cycle, elliptical, and cross trainer was being walked, straddled, glided, or resisting the strides of arms and legs. Every weight machine, cable, and rack of free weights was being yanked, pulled, and pushed. Looking for new found health and fitness, many strutted around adorned in the latest active wear fashions. Lots of guys tugged on padded, fingerless, leather gloves had yet to be frayed by the friction of hide on steel. Others wrapped a weight belt around their waist -- still unstained by the first trickles of sweat, they more closely resembled a cummerbund.
At times I found myself cringing as I watched people sling weights or pump the machines in such ways that violently jerked joints and tendons. I expected to hear the unique 'pop' that only a torn ACL, Achilles, or a bicep detaching from a ligament (most of the people were in my age bracket, and believe me, it's really easy to hurt yourself trying to get in shape). A couple of newbies asked me how to use some of the weights and machines -- I was relieved to assist them (I did not want to have to stop my routine and call an ambulance, or do CPR -- I know -- not very compassionate).
Bob, one of the owners, and I usually chat a few minutes every time I am in there (6 days a week). I asked him how the surge of fitness enthusiasts would shake out.
He responded . . .
About a third will come for 2-3 months, and then we will never see them again -- but they won't cancel their membership. About another third will begin to come very sporadically -- but they won't cancel their membership. Then another third will become absolutely committed -- you will watch them physically change -- it's pretty rewarding.
My conversation with Bob is metaphor -- a simple understandable example of the different stages of learning to walk with God. There will be resolutions -- fueled by good intentions. There will be retractions -- prompted by the pain of rigorous exercise. Getting in shape spiritually has no easy route, but for those who will ride out the highs and lows, a noticeable change in their spiritual condition will emerge -- it's pretty rewarding.