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Face to Face



Spiritual Training Cycle: Unity (wk. 9/13)


In the Spring of 2020, I experienced something in my fitness journey I never had before – this little thing called COVID-19. No matter which side of the aisle you sit on in regard to what soon followed, we all experienced state mandated shutdowns of businesses, including gyms. What a strange thing to wake up in the morning and not be able to go to the gym. And while I did get more sleep than normal, I also began to get irritable. Fortunately, our coach let us check out fitness equipment and book private training sessions. But not everyone took advantage of those opportunities. Even though we were only shut down for eight weeks, there were days when it felt like eight years. I remember standing at the bay door greeting athletes at the first class I coached when we were allowed to reopen. There was this wave of both awkwardness and relief as people walked in. No matter how many “Zoom Happy Hours” we all had, there’s just no substitute for the power of face to face.


This is the whole reason community fitness gyms, like CrossFit, are so successful. Think about it. The two most distinct things found in any community fitness gym and are the coaches and the community. The equipment is all the same. The rigs are all from Rogue. The wallball targets are all the same height. Distinction is found in community, the gathering of coaches and athletes. And the community is even more distinct by class. The early morning classes are loaded with Type A’s who are no nonsense go getters. The mid-day classes are full of wealthy people with “flexible work schedules.” And the evening classes don’t even get me started. Talk about the train falling off the track. I’m kidding of course, but it’s true that each class is distinct. While classes may be distinct, there are all the same in that they gather face to face.


So many amazing things happen in the gym when we workout together. There is value simply being in the presence of others. See if some of these things have happened to you. First, there’s the opportunity to encourage and to be encouraged. I love the sounds of encouragement as they make their way throughout the gym. We also get to develop the ability to endure difficult things. As we see others suffering, it comforts us while we suffer. And finally, being face to face creates unity. That’s how teams are formed. We unify with others as we build fitness together.


These same opportunities also exist in our spiritual lives. Not just through the value of presence, but through the power of prayer. I’ll be honest, I still get nervous sometimes when I’m going to pray out loud for someone else. Maybe it’s because I’ve only been on this faith journey nine years. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to be judged if my prayer is lousy. Whatever the cause, I find myself occasionally anxious even now when I pray face to face. So, if you too find yourself a little nervous or stuck, let me share some Scripture with you for each opportunity:


Encourage – And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Endure – We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-5

Unify - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

When in doubt of what to pray, start with one of these Bible verses. Allow yourself to be used by the Holy Spirit to reach those in need. Remember, it’s not about what you say, it’s about who you point them to. Point people to Jesus for encouragement, endurance, and unity. In our spiritual lives, God will call us to pray for many people in many ways. Challenge yourself to cast your anxiety aside and pray with them face to face.


Questions for Reflection:

Can you recall someone in your life who prayed for you face to face? What was that like?


Of the three opportunities offered for face-to-face prayer (encourage, endure, or unify), which do you find yourself gravitating to?

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