Lent is in full swing. For many people this means giving something up. Some give up chocolate. Some wine. I remember one of my friends giving up healthy food. The point is during Lent, many of us feel an often less than understood urge to deprive ourselves of something we like. Whether it is some attempt to master a vice, a focused attempt to focus more fully on God or a weight loss gimmick, it is hard.
It is hard to give up things we are accustomed to and enjoy. This is also why quite often, we fail epicly at this attempt at "self improvement." Its like a second chance at our New Year's resolution.
Lent for serious Christians should be different. It should be focused on fully and completely immersing yourself in God by withdrawing from a normal thing that could almost be seen as a necessity. When we fast from food, our hunger serves as a reminder to pray. When we fast from activities we usually enjoy, the urge to do them serves as a reminder that our time is not our own and we should use it wisely. When we try to give up our vices, the STRONG urges in our lives remind us that we are never done battling sin in our lives and must continue to push and rely on the grace, mercy and power of God.
But, just because we are relying on God for these things, does not mean it is easy. We are after all still in control of our decisions. Our resolve may fall short. And this is why we need community. This is why we need accountability. And too often in the church, this is the last thing anyone wants. The sad fact of the matter is we can never be the people God made us to be with out faithful brothers and sisters in Christ urging us on but for whatever reason Christianity has evolved into a "Me and Jesus and No One Else" kind of thing.
I cannot tell you how many people have told me they can be close to God without going to church. How Jesus is right there in the boat with them. Its a fair point, God is everywhere we go. that is to be sure. But I have often noticed that those who spend the least time in a church or most often the ones whose God looks an awful lot like them. They have arrived at views o God that have less to do with Scripture and more to do with what they think about the world. The Truth about God is no longer altering what they think but instead what they think is altering the "truth" about God. This comes from having no one there keeping us in check with what we believe, how we act and how we live. I blogged about this earlier in the blog about standards. But there is another piece to this that is really important and I experienced it last Saturday doing WOD 12.1 of the Crossfit Open.
This starts with my first attempt on Thursday Febrary 23. I went in with a plan and executed that plan. I had people urging me on and I am ever so thankful for that. But in a way that attempt was "my doing." 99 reps. not bad at all. But, with the input from my friends at Flower City Crossfit, I realized I wasted a lot of time. This was feedback and community accountability in action. So, i planned to do it again. On Saturday.
I had talked it over, visualized it in my head and arrived at the idea that I could get 110 reps this time. Lets do it I thought. You got this.
I went in on Saturday confident and ready to do it. To be who I, and others, knew I could be. And then the God Forsaken Burpees started.
What I hadn't accounted for was that I would still be tired from two days before. What. An. Idiot.
Of course I was tired. I did 99 burpees and 117 x 24k Kettlebell snatches that day. NERD ALERT!
My first minute went well. I got 23. My second minute went...horribly. Dropped to 14. I was already tired and I had 5 minutes of GFB's left. I thought I was toast. I thought I was gonna just suck wind to the end and take my 99. I thought...about quitting. And thats when the yelling started. Now there had been cheers before, but this was different. This was a group of people watching me fall down get up jump repeat and wanting me to get 100 reps more than I did at that point. And so I kept moving. They kept yelling. I was exhausted by the time I hit 60 burpees but I couldn't quit because these people, none of whom knew I existed until late September of 2011, wouldn't let me. They knew my goal and they wanted me to get it.
I kept pushing. with a minute and a half left I had 20 burpees to go to hit 100. Again..."You aren't going to make it." I shook my legs out and the yelling went from loud to berserk. And I went berserk too. Off I went and when all was done and the clock hit 00:00 I had 101 GFB's.
I received congratulations for my achievement. But honestly, I had so little to do with that amount it is not even funny. If it had been up to me, I would have bailed or just half efforted to the end. But I THANK GOD for those people who stayed in my face, and relentlessly pushed me toward what I wanted.
This is true accountable community. Not just reminding me that I messed up in the first WOD but investing in my success the second time. Knowing my hopes. Knowing my goals. And relentlessly pushing me toward them. This is the beauty of the Crossfit Community as I have seen it. Unrelenting support.
It is something the Church needs more of. Desperately. Local churches need to share their goals with each other and keep each other accountable for those goals. The people in our congregations need to speak to each other about their hopes, their dreams and most importantly their struggles. So they can have a group of cheerleaders urging them on to success. Because in the end, when one of us struggles, we all struggle. When one part of the body malfunctions, the whole thing starts to break down.
1 Corinthians 12:24b-26:
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
This is what the Church is truly about. Not just each individual doing their own thing. All of the cells of the body functioning together. All of the muscles working in unison. All systems go. When one system starts failing, the rest try to make up for it but in the end this will result in illness, disease and eventually collapse.
Last Sunday I urged my congregation to give something up for Lent. Or to add something. But not only that, I urged them to tell someone they love about it so that they can beheld accountable and be urged on.
WOD 12.2 happens in 12 hours. My Goal is 65 Reps. Hold me to it, any who read this. Pray for me if you cannot be there to cheer. If you are there tomorrow, be relentless. I need it.
And thank God that He is relentless too. We all need him to be.