This coming March will be an anniversary of sorts for me. It will mark my 31st year of working out. This may sound trivial to many if not all of you. I mean, it sounds kind of ridiculous to remember the time when you first started lifting weights. Only a total meat head would remember that. Unless the date marked something that significantly changed your life.
Turning defeat into victory
It was February 1988 and I was trying out for the freshman baseball team at Cactus High School in Glendale, AZ. About a year earlier, we had moved from my hometown of West Branch, MI. The town was only 2,000 people and really it was all I knew. I was a pretty good ballplayer and had been named the town’s Little League MVP in 1986. I hated the fact that we moved to Arizona and my spite for the desert filled state was about to grow.
Dudley Butts was the freshman head coach and he seemed like a good guy who had an idea of the game. Tryouts were 3 weeks long back then with kids getting cut at the end of each week. They would put a list in the gymnasium of the players who passed the cut and if you were not on it, everybody knew. When I got to school that day, I was informed by another kid that I didn’t make it. I was crushed. I went to Coach Butts to ask him the reason, and he told me that I was good at everything, but great at nothing.
I made it through the day and when I arrived at home, I sobbed for what seemed like hours. I was angry, sad and confused. How did I go from being named the best player in the league 2 years ago to being cut? My mom came home from work and I shared the news with her. She consoled me for a while and then asked me a tough question, “What are you going to do about it?”
I wasn’t sure. I already worked really hard at baseball, but outside of my strong throwing arm I was pretty weak physically. My 5’4, 105-pound frame, wasn’t putting fear into anyone. Mom had a friend who was a personal trainer and former body builder, so she asked HER for a favor. Yes, I said her. I just got cut from the baseball team and now I had to get trained by a woman. Why don’t you just cut off my testicles. No offense to any females out there. Remember this is a guy’s blog.
She took me to a weight room and showed me some things that I still use today. She gave me a workout plan and wished me luck. I proceeded to sneak into the weight room in the apartment complex across the street from where I lived nearly every day for the next year straight. I told no one except for my Mom that I was doing this for fear of the apartment complex manager finding out. I was a stealth ninja who was on a mission.
I made the Junior Varsity team the next year, eventually earned a college scholarship and played professionally. The skinny freshman eventually filled out into a 6’2, 220-pound specimen when he was in his early 20’s. People now viewed me in a different light and my self-confidence skyrocketed. The problem was that my identity started to be rooted in my physique, which is not a good thing. Vanity and cockiness were not too far around the bend and I lost my way for a while.
Walking with purpose
It was Christmas 1999 when I received the best gift I have been ever given by another person. Tommy, my older brother, gave me an NIV Study Bible. I had just committed my life to Christ but was still very young in my walk with God even though I grew up Catholic and in the world’s eyes, was pretty solid in my faith. The problem was I talked a good game but didn’t always follow it up with my actions. I really needed to read the book of James right then and there to get some wisdom on this!
So, I started a bible reading plan in the morning and was pretty consistent with it. However, I was still going out, partying with my buddies and drinking. I didn’t have other strong Christians in my life that I hung out with to model myself after. I would spend 30 minutes in the morning reading the bible and then at least 2 hours every night in the weight room working on my body. I was not spending enough time on my spiritual body.
It says in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” My treasure was in the weight room, not in the bible. I spent most of my time there and on the ballfield preparing my body for the next season. There is nothing wrong with doing this as long as your perspective is right. The problem was this- I was a ballplayer who was professing to be a Christian instead of a Christian who played baseball.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:21 NIV
Godliness can be defined as a positive way of life influenced by God. I needed to change my life perspective and spend more time on things that would make me a stronger Christian. It says in 1 Timothy 4:8 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I needed to focus on training my spiritual body more and if that meant less time in the gym then so be it.
Now at 45 years young, I am still in pretty good shape even though I am down to around 190 pounds. I still work out at least 4 days per week and have a pretty strict diet. Eventually I grew stronger spiritually, but not until I was surrounded by other powerful men of God who helped show me the way. Their example and life experiences helped mold me. Without them I would not be the father, husband and leader that I am today. Men like Lee Cummings, Bill Crawford, Andre Wadsworth, Troy Johnson, Scott Adams and Jim Reid were instrumental in my young Christian walk.
So how about you? Are you walking strong in your faith and spending time with God, or are you looking at yourself in the mirror doing biceps curls for 30 minutes at Gold’s Gym. Really slowwww biceps curls. Here are some ways you can strengthen your Christian walk and spend more time God.
- Get on a bible reading plan and try to memorize some scriptures
- Join a men’s bible study or small group
- Listen to Christian music (This was a game changer for me and I still rock out to it! I suggest you try Skillet and Thousand Foot Crutch.)
- Put others needs before yours
- Do everything in the name of Christ Jesus (Read Colossians 3:17 and memorize it!)
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