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Spiritual Training Cycle: Unity (wk. 11/13)

In early May, I took a trip to Dallas to finish my semester of graduate school. While I was there, I dropped into a great gym where I unplugged as a coach, plugged in as an athlete, and got some quality training with their community. Four days later, I was back in our gym where the athletes were buzzing about with some new training concept they had recently become aware of. To be honest, I usually shake my head at situations like this. Mostly because people discover on Google or YouTube something Chris and I have been teaching for years. And this was no exception. As the workout was getting ready to start, one of the athletes looked over at me and said, “Coach, for this WOD, I’m gonna flow.”

Flow. It’s the biggest buzzword in CrossFit 737 right now. And once again, not a new concept. Flow was born out of the athletic pursuit of a mental state known as “the zone.” The zone is the good space where the magic happens. Flow is about backing down the intensity of the work just enough to be mentally unbridled and completely focused on the task at hand. When you allow the work to keep you fully present, you’re in the flow. Athletes are in love with this idea. Some of them love it because they think it gives them permission not to push so hard. And that’s true. But flow is not some recovery term. It’s seeing the difficulty in front of you for what it really is – an opportunity to build fitness.

Fitness is simply the by-product of work. If you want fitness, what you really want is work. Not just any work either. The quality of your fitness is determined by the quality of your work. The flow to true fitness must always pass through effective work. Over time, athletes learn to take their focus off fitness and instead ring every drop of opportunity out of the work. The blood, sweat, and tears are the investments made which produce this rich and lasting fitness. This is the flow in physical fitness.

There’s flow in spiritual fitness as well, and that flow carries us toward shalom. Shalom is the richness, fullness, and ultimate flourishing of life. I would go so far as to describe it as the spiritual zone. When we are fully present with God in the work of our life, we are experiencing shalom. This is our true joy. Avery Rimiller defines this kind of joy as, “A feeling of good pleasure that is dependent on who Jesus is rather than on who we are or what is happening around us.” Joy is the by-product of a life lived in pursuit of Jesus.

Joy is the by-product of a life lived in pursuit of Jesus.

Which is not easy by the way. Why? Because you don’t develop that kind of joy without difficulty, sorrow, grief, and pain. They are all on the flow to joy. People mistakenly believe that sorrow and joy are like opposite poles on a magnet, but they aren’t. The pain and difficulty God allows in your life can and will produce emotions of sorrow. But that’s the work. And God uses that work for the purpose of drawing people close to Him and producing in us a joy that cannot be shaken. So, when situations in your life get challenging, take a deep breath, center yourself, and focus because joy may just be on the horizon of your flow.

Questions for Reflection:

How do you see the relationship between sorrow and joy?

Can you think of a time in your life when difficulty led to joy?

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