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The Trainer

(a Steve Orr scripture reflection)

 

I was never an athlete. The closest I came to team sports was one brief summer in Little League. That was a disaster: couldn't hit, couldn't run, couldn't pay attention. Best to draw the curtain on that right now. 

 

That left PE class—the dreaded Phys-Ed. Starting with the 7th Grade, my fellow students and I spent a portion of three school days each week in a 40 minute version of whatever sport was in season. We played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, track & field in the spring, and dodgeball whenever it rained. I was bad at all of it.  

 

All through this we were subjected to a form of torture called "conditioning." That is the part I hated the most: sit-ups, chin-ups, rope climbs, push-ups, and running the bleachers. Imitating sports wasn't so bad: you got knocked down, you got up, you got knocked down again—simple. Exercising just to exercise?! Madness.

 

Many of my friends from those years—all of us back-of-the-pack runners—would be shocked to see me now. I start each day with stretching, walk 8,000 steps, and gasp! do conditioning! Odd as it seems, I have even paid someone to lead me through many of the very activities I hated when I was in PE class all those years ago. Why would do I do this? Because there were things I wanted to do: improve my health, lose weight, shape up. I needed a trainer to ensure I reached those goals. 


When I read this week's passages from Luke and Acts, I immediately saw a parallel to my gym activities.

 

When I am working out, I am focused on the moment. My trainer, however, would be thinking of my entire conditioning: where I've been, what I'm doing right then, and what's next. A trainer evaluates how those factors, in concert with others the trainer is planning, would move me toward the objectives. 

 

It's like that for the Apostles in the passages. They were told to expect someone who would serve as teacher and guide, someone who would help them achieve the goals set before them. They didn't know what was coming. But they believed the one who told them a helper would come. They acted from within that belief.

 

Though I am no longer a gym rat working with a trainer, I still work out. And when I’m nearing the end of my treadmill time—and fading—I am encouraged by the calm voices of my past trainers: "You can do this. Just a bit more. Almost there." They knew what I was capable of, knew how much more I could bring to the task, knew how much more would be required of me before I could rest.  


The Holy Spirit is like that with us on our spiritual journey. When the going gets hard, we need to listen for that voice deep inside: 


"You can do this. Just a bit more. Almost there."

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