Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where Are You Looking?

Rodeo again? you ask. Absolutely. How can I resist the irony of a bull rider landing face first in the arena dirt as an announcer yells, “Where you look is where you go!”

Following your eyes is a pile-driving concept well known to those who wrap their courage, rope and legs around a bucking Brahma crossbred for eight seconds.

But a first century fisherman knew it too.

As one who rode the waves of the Middle East Sea of Galilee, Peter was likely the equivalent of a modern rodeo cowboy. He met life head on, wore blisters on his hands and creases into his face. And then he met the Tempest Tamer.

While drifting on a familiar but stormy sea, Peter watched that man walk across the water toward his boat. “If it’s really you, call me to you,” he yelled at what his companions believed to be an apparition.


Peter climbed over the edge, locked his eyes on the one who called, and stepped onto the water. No one else had the courage to even try it, much less get out of the boat. Imagine defying the laws of nature and walking on the roiling, dark sea known so well to those whose living was found beneath it.

And then Peter looked away.

He looked away from the one who called him and gazed into the crashing waves. Fear sucked him down into what he beheld, and but for the outstretched hand of the Water Walker, Peter would have drowned in that fear.

Can we relate to that? We who neither ride bulls nor fish for a living? Might we know what it feels like to glance toward our fear and fall into the choking waves of loneliness, abandonment, or depression?

The Water Walker still walks today. He who tamed the tempest calms the storms of our heart. “Come to me, all you who are weary,” he says. “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Set your heart on Him. Lock your eyes and your hopes on Jesus. He will lift you with his outstretched hands, and never let you down.

Matthew 14:22-33

Think about it: Did Jesus carry Peter back to the boat, or did they walk back together?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mom Arms

I have Mom Arms. You know – those upper limbs that come complete with built-in bat wings. I’m beginning to understand why my mother never wore sleeveless shirts in public.

As a writer, I do more heavy sitting than heavy lifting and my biceps and triceps have atrophied. Not the skin surrounding them, however.

I know exercise is important for a balanced life, but I detest going to the gym. I just can’t bring myself to drive 17 miles to town so I can work up a sweat in a big former Safeway supermarket with people I don’t know, slinging dead weight around and trying to hold my stomach in at the same time.

So I walk. Most mornings before sunrise, I tramp out a two-mile hike down the road and back again. But that doesn’t help my arms.

This morning My Son The Body-Builder put together a home-front workout regimen for me based on his own weight-lifting exercises. Since I don’t have to attach 100-pound weights to my lifting, a gallon of water or a loaded laundry basket will do just fine, he said.

“Resistance is what you want,” he explained. Demonstrating with a long rubber jump rope I bought years ago from Avon, he stood on the band, a handle from each end in each hand, and effortlessly stretched his arms above his head.

“Keep your elbows close to your head, and push slowly upward.”

I‘m good at slowly. I barely moved, so he showed me how to reduce the resistance for now and how to increase it later as my strength grows.

I don’t enjoy this resistance-pressure thing, but I know what little strength I have left will fade even more if I don’t do it. God knows it too, and He uses the human body as a great object lesson for the human spirit.

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors,” says The Message. “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2-4)

Well-developed: that’s how I want my Mom Arms to look. I guess it’s going to take a little workout.