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Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 12/13)

Ring rows can be pretty easy. Depending on where you place your feet when you stand in front of the rings, they can be as simple as leaning back and then pulling forward while holding on to a ring in each hand. Ring rows can be pretty easy.

Ring rows are also the beginning to mastering one of the more challenging exercises in CrossFit, the Muscle-Up. Easy ring rows to hard ring rows to banded pull-ups to strict pull-ups to kipping pull-ups to chest-to-bars to muscle-ups. How long should this progression take? Wrong question - it doesn’t matter. All these exercises are CrossFit exercises. Wherever you are in your fitness journey, when you are doing these exercises, you are doing CrossFit. You start where you are and progress at your own pace. You don’t “become a real CrossFit Athlete” only when you master muscle-ups. You get to come as you are and grow from there. The journey to greater fitness is a road paved with potential.

Even Zacchaeus had potential

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man; a wee little man was he” was the humorous chorus young children sang in Sunday School a generation ago as they learned about one of Jesus’ followers. That’s because the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 opens by letting the readers know he was short. But his stature was the least important reason Zacchaeus should never have been invited to become a friend of Jesus.

“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.” - Luke 19:1-6, ESV

A little historical perspective Here’s the quick background: The Roman Empire was the political superpower of the day and had total military and political control over the Jewish nation. One of the main reasons the Jews hated the Romans was because the Roman government imposed burdensome taxes. And Zacchaeus, a Jew, was a tax collector for Rome. He turned his back on his Jewish brothers and sisters and became part of the Roman occupation. To make matters even worse, Zacchaeus didn’t just work for Rome, he got rich off commissions from extracting burdensome taxes from the Jews. His potential for God’s love looked limited. But when Jesus saw wee little Zacchaeus’ tree-climbing efforts as He passed by, He recognized Zacchaeus’ heart and asked to come to his home. Zacchaeus was so touched, he immediately promised to give away fifty percent of his wealth and make more than full amends to anyone he had defrauded. Jesus loved Zacchaeus even though He knew he had been a wealthy traitor to his people. He saw Zacchaeus’s potential and invited him to come as he was and grow from there.

Spiritual Ring Rows Here’s the lesson for all of us who feel like today we can only do “spiritual ring rows” - like CrossFit, you don’t become a real follower of Christ after you make progress in becoming a better person; Jesus wants you to come as you are and grow from there. God sees the potential in you!

You have the potential to be loved by God just as you are. There is nothing in your past, present, or future that is greater than God’s love for you. You have the potential to grow. Today, you may feel like you hardly know God or the Bible or even how to pray. God’s love through His Spirit will teach you and draw you closer to God. And finally, you have the potential to change. Athletes who limit themselves by refusing or resisting new challenges or more difficult progressions don’t see what’s possible. God sees what’s possible in your life, and He has all the coaching you need to get you there. All you need to know is that you have potential.

Questions for Reflection: What potential do you think Jesus sees in you?

What gets in your way of thinking you aren’t good enough to be accepted by Jesus?

Where do you need to give yourself grace and allow Jesus to let you come as you are?

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