What Jesus Taught Me at the Gym
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
About a month before my gym closed due to Covid I started attending circuit classes. For years I’ve done cycling, barre, pilates and tabata classes, but hadn’t yet tried a circuit class. Just as it was becoming my favorite class, the gyms closed. Big sigh.
Circuit classes lead participants through a series of exercises, incorporating both weight-training and cardio, with each set lasting for about one minute. So for example, you might spend one minute doing squats, and then the next minute jumping jacks, or tri-cep dips, straight-leg dead lifts, and so on and so forth. If the instructor is good, he or she walks around giving the participants tips to correct their form. (I get lots of tips from instructors.) One particular Saturday morning in early March a very precise instructor corrected my form on what seemed like every single exercise. “Knees bent.” “Keep your hips straight.” “Try to keep the small of your back on your mat.” It was a little embarrassing and quite humbling. Nonetheless it was my favorite class, and he became one of my favorite instructors.
Why? Because he cared. He kept reminding us that having the wrong form could result in two things: 1) injury and 2) not actually building your muscles. Since I did want to build my muscles and I didn’t want to get injured, I listened carefully and tried hard to do as he said (and tried even harder not to let my pride get in the way.) Throughout the 45 minute class I told myself over and over again, “Be teachable, Rebecca. Be teachable, Rebecca.” Eventually I realized this voice in my head was not me, but that Jesus had come with me to the gym that morning to teach me about things far more important than straight-leg dead lifts. So I tuned in and my circuit class became a sanctification class.
By the time I got home the Lord had spoken to me a great deal about what it means to have a teachable spirit. Little did I know that in just a couple weeks Covid would cause me to be in my house with all my kids 24/7, and I would desperately need a teachable, moldable Spirit during these long and repetitive days. Oh how I need to stay malleable in my spirit as these days goes on and on and on and on…
The Lord is absolutely using this season for spiritual training: “Rebecca, that was too harsh.” “Rebecca, I’ve given you self-control. Use it.” “Rebecca, don’t be lazy.” “Rebecca, be nice.” “Rebecca, relax.” “Rebecca, forgive.” He is the very best instructor…gentle, firm and very clear with me, and notices absolutely everything. This is sanctification…learning (and applying) practices and characteristics that help me become more like Jesus. Interestingly enough, my reasons for obedience are primarily the same as in weight-training: 1) So as to avoid injury (to people and relationships) and 2) so that growth occurs (in maturity). Throughout the whole of Scripture it’s clear that we are supposed to grow in the Christian faith – to mature. We are not supposed to be spiritually static. But in order to grow we need to learn, and when pride or embarrassment or insistence on my own way prevents me from being teachable, I don’t grow and people get hurt…in my case, those people are primarily my kids and husband. And so I pray – “Lord, give me a teachable spirit” – every single day.
And my goodness does he give me opportunity for growth! Especially now being at home with all my kiddos. Just the other day one of my daughters was in tears about something that she thought I’d get upset about. In truth, I wasn’t upset with her at all, nor should I have been. But just the fact that she was avoiding talking to me about it because she thought I’d get mad was a flashing red light and a call to check my spirit. “Lord, teach me kindness! Teach me to be gentle!”
Each morning when I go into my prayer closet a verse posted on the wall stares back at me and shapes my morning prayer: Isaiah 50:4 says “The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” Yes Lord! Let me listen like one being taught!
As I’ve pressed into this desire for a teachable spirit over the last several weeks, I’ve learned a few things. I’d love to share some key things the Lord has taught me.
A teachable spirit is never done learning. This is the very first and most important thing about being teachable (at least as far as I know!) There is no end to learning, particulary about Jesus, His love, and what it means to walk with Him and become like Him. He is the great mystery of God that was hidden for ages past but is now revealed (Colossians 1:26-2:3)…we will never get to the end of Him. Lest I ever think I’ve learned all there is to know, 1 Corinthians 8:2 reminds me, “Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.” There is more to know! How devastating it would be for my spirit to ever tire of being taught. In Jeremiah 33:3, God tells Jeremiah “Call to Me, and I will answer; and I will tell you great and mighty things that you do not know.” Can you believe that! God has MIGHTY THINGS to teach us if we would just ask Him!
A teachable spirit is not defensive. As soon as the Lord brings something to my attention that I need to work on, I can choose to humbly receive it, or I can put up walls of defense and start making excuses. It’s so tempting and easy to start building walls…especially when the Lord uses another person to address my issues with me. But oh…then no growth happens and relationships get bruised. There is no room for pride in a teachable spirit…rather, a teachable spirit pauses, listens, considers, and presses in.
A teachable spirit is not easily offended. One thing the Lord has been really emphasizing to me over the last couple of years is that there is really no room for offense. If He or another person brings an issue to me that I need to improve upon, there is absolutely no need for me to curl up and act offended or wounded. I’m a sinner, I own it and I thank Jesus for dying for it. No need to lick my wounds. Rather, a teachable spirit will take it for what it is, move forward and do better.
A teachable spirit cannot be in a hurry. Oh wouldn’t it be great if I could hurry up and learn everything so I could stop messing up!? Except it doesn’t work that way. To be teachable means to take the time it takes and put in the effort it requires. The process of becoming like Jesus will last the entire time I walk this earth. It’s a marathon, and every single day is a day of training. But our coach is gentle and kind and oh so forgiving. Praise be to God.
A teachable spirit invites others on the journey. The Apostle Paul is my best example of this. Oh goodness did the Lord Jesus have a lot to teach him after their encounter on the Damascus Road! So much so that Paul went away by himself for 3 years just to learn from Jesus. By an amazing miracle of God, Jesus transformed Paul’s hard, cruel heart into a soft, malleable teachable spirit. And then Paul spent the rest of his earthly time teaching others, with tremendous clarity, vulnerability, honesty, and humility. A teachable spirit knows how good and refreshing it feels to let Jesus transform and heal your spirit, and we want it for others!
Being taught by God is the journey of a lifetime. And what a prayer to pray – “Lord teach me today! Tell me great and mighty things that I don’t know!” We have no idea what He’ll teach us when we give Him free reign to teach us whatever He wants. There is no greater adventure.
Right now the Lord has the attention of my heart. We are in our fifth week of being home all together every day, and I have no place to go. I’m often tired and weary of all this and yet curious and thrilled to see what the Lord might be doing with it.
So, teach me Jesus! And thanks for coming to the gym with me.