Spiritual Training Cycle: Submission (wk. 5/13)
The evolution of an athlete’s fitness journey can often be seen by one essential, yet basic item – their gym bag. In the sport I train in, CrossFit, the starting point is no bag at all. Who needs a bag when you walk into a community fitness gym full of bright, shiny toys? But then it begins. Usually with a jump rope. Next thing you know, you’re schlepping a rope, a belt, and some tape – plus that water bottle!
The bag simplifies our life. Or does it? All those little compartments and pockets in your bag are like sirens calling out, “Fill me.” “Buy more stuff and put it in here.” Before long, you are a portable gym. You then pass through the phase where you’ve got every gadget plus extras to share. Knee sleeves, wrist wraps, headbands, Thera gun, lifting shoes, mobility tools. Someone stop the madness!
Then one day an epiphany. You realize you don’t need all this stuff. You think back to the beginning when it was you and a rope. And maybe some tape. The evolution of the gym bag is like the evolution of life. We learn that we are most fulfilled with minimal equipment.
This is how I want you to approach the spiritual exercise of simplicity. Simplicity is letting go of unnecessary complexities and distractions in order to deepen your connection to God. It is the art of returning to the simple life, learning to rest in the Lord and find joy there. Simplicity gives you the freedom to live in the here and the now.
Simplicity gives you the freedom to live in the here and the now.
In physical fitness training, sometimes equipment is unnecessary. Other times, it’s distracting. Walk into any large commercial gym and you’ll see. Planet Fitness, for example, offers its members over 20 different machines. Just machines. Next time you’re there, be sure to get a few sets on the angled leg curl machine. Now, do I think you can get in a quality workout in a gym like that? For sure. But you’ve got to navigate a lot of stuff and you must know what you’re doing.
You also need to realize gyms like that, perhaps without meaning to, feed the mindset that, “new is better.” When the latest machine hits the floor, so does the post on social media. And the trigger in your brain telling you to go try it simply because it’s new develops the unhealthy habit of always wanting the latest and greatest. As Morgan Wallen reminds us, “I don’t think Jesus done it that way.”
The gym is an illustration of life. Simplicity is the process of letting go and letting God. The first step is, well, simple. Identify the things in your life that are unnecessary or distracting. To do that, you’ll need a clear set of priorities. Once identified, you then begin the process of removal. For some people, it’s activities. I know parents who masterplan their lives around their children. From dance to horseback riding to sports to hobbies, life becomes a complicated and convoluted mess. Time to simplify.
For others, it’s possessions. A 2023 GMC Yukon Denali SUV is great. It also starts at over $80k. Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you can afford it. Like it or not, vehicles are status symbols. The display of wealth through possessions is death by a thousand cuts. And wealthy parents feed this unhealthy habit to their kids. I know this is the culture we live in. I’m just asking you to ask yourself this, “Is _______ necessary and does it deepen my connection to God?” If not, time to simplify.
Full confession. I own a gym bag. And it has everything in it I listed earlier. All that stuff is in my bag. But not for long. I’m going to dump it out and ask myself if I really need it. If not, I’m giving it away. My challenge is to do that with your life. Engage in the spiritual exercise of simplicity and return to resting in God. The secret to a great life is to live it with minimal equipment.
Questions for Reflection:
What distracts and preoccupies your life?
How could you create more space in your life to love and serve God?