“I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel.
This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ.” -Philippians 1:6-10
I’ve jogged 2 miles 3-4 times a week for most of my adult life. And last year, my husband and I begin a weight lifting regiment at a local gym that wonderfully gives free memberships to clergy. So I considered myself to be somewhat fit. Until now.
Last week I attended my first “Body Pump” class and that delusion is now over. First of all, I thought the class would be about 30 minutes. Uh, no. An hour later we were still going. Believe me, I thought about walking out several times, as my legs and back and arms pleaded with me. But I couldn’t leave. I was smack in the middle of a crowd of about 50 people, and there were at least 5 people watching the class at the door because it had been too crowded for them to get in. I was filling up a spot someone else wanted, so I had to hang in.
The instructors were indefatigable. These amazing and annoying women just kept telling us, “You can do this!” “Don’t quit yet!” “You’ll be so proud of you!” “Just keep going!” And then came the line that got me over the hump and propelled me through the last half hour. “If you feel tension, that means you are feeling change happen right now. Isn’t that a great feeling?”
Well, I’m not convinced yet it is a great feeling. But it is a great thing, seeing change happening right now. And you know how you can tell? Because you feel tension. As a natural born people pleaser and conflict avoider this has been a slow and painful lesson of maturing in my faith: Tension is not a bad thing. Tension means something old is meeting something new. Change is on the way.
As my 45-year old muscles move into new positions, there is tension. As our church discerns how to be faithful for coming generations, there is tension. Even though this congregation is abundantly loving and joyful, it is only human for there to be tension when you talk about something as brave as relocation! And obviously, as our country wrestles with who we want to be after the term of our first black president, there is tension.
The tension is not what should scare us. The only thing that is harmful about tension is if we run away from it. Of course tension makes some people act badly, and I’m not talking about hanging around for abuse. But tension itself is not bad. It in fact is a hopeful sign. If we will engage it constructively and stick with it, we can be a part of a change for good.
Maybe I consider myself reasonably spiritually fit, too. But when there is tension, oh, then I know. I’m not where I want to be. My love needs to become richer with knowledge and insight. I need more clarity about what really matters. I need to put sincerity as my highest goal. Thank God that the One who began a good work in me, and in you, and in our church, and in our country, will be faithful to complete it. Completing it might just involve some tension.
So I’m going back to Body Pump tonight. I figure it’s tension training so I can feel change happening. Maybe it will transfer to spiritual growth too. Here’s to tension!