On a Monday morning, facing the steep climb of the work week ahead, I take grace from wherever I can find it.
I find grace this particular morning in an observation of Patty, my fitness trainer. She meets me twice a week at the physical therapy clinic and attempts the difficult task of making my 58-year-old body strong and fit.
Patty is a calm and intelligent woman who laughs easily. She is compact and athletic as befits her profession.
Her first career working with at-risk youth in a continuation high school, broke her heart with so much damage and unfulfilled potential. So she turned to training. Patty has a healer’s gift for restoring and strengthening bodies abused and weakened by injury and neglected diet and exercise.
She works me hard, but watches carefully to see that I don’t hurt myself. This morning she turns out to be as much my chaplain as my trainer.
I am on the second of three sets of 15 repetitions of squats while lifting a weighted bar that is balanced on my shoulders behind my neck. “Look up,” Patty tells me. A few squats later she again says, “Keep looking up.” So I lift my head and push on through the set.
Before I start the third set, I ask her, “Why do you tell me to look up?”
“If you bow your neck,” she replies, “you are giving in to the weight and it will press you down. If you keep looking up, you will lift the weight. Looking up makes all the difference.”
“I understand,” I say. “What you are telling me has a far wider application than exercise.”
Like I said before, I take grace wherever I can find it these days. This is a little story with a big point.
We all carry loads, often of staggering weight and comprised of all kinds of things picked up in the struggles of living. We bow our necks to the loads, give in to them, and try to carry them with deficient strength. Not surprisingly, the weight increases and presses down until it breaks and crushes us.
The proper form for dealing with our loads is to keep looking up to the Lord with total focus of our body, soul, mind and strength. Like Patty said, “Looking up makes all the difference.”
Sometimes we lack the strength to lift our head. God will supply that too.
David was weighed down by the consequences of his sin, a split in his family,and the revolt of his people led by his estranged son Absalom. The once-mighty warrior king of Israel was a broken man looking for strength when he wrote —
Many are saying to me,
“There is no help for you in God.”
. . .
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
Our God gives us the strength to look up even as we are being crushed. That’s a word of grace for a Monday morning when your load is heavy and the temptation is so strong to hang your head and give into it. “Don’t give into the weight,” our Lord pleads. “Look up and I will lift the weight.” Amen!
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him (Ps 34:8).
Under the mercy of Christ,
Please note that the content and viewpoints of Mr. Hansen are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.
Kent Hansen is a Christian attorney, author and speaker. He practices corporate law and is the managing attorney of the firm of Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen in Corona, California. Kent also serves as the general counsel of Loma Linda University and Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.
Finding God’s grace revealed in the ordinary experiences of life, spiritual renewal in Christ and prayer are Kent’s passions. He has written two books, Grace at 30,000 Feet and Other Unexpected Places published by Review & Herald in 2002 and Cleansing Fire, Healing Streams: Experiencing God’s Love Through Prayer, published by Pacific Press in spring 2007. Many of his stories and essays about God’s encompassing love have been published in magazines and journals. Kent is often found on the hiking trails of the southern California mountains, following major league baseball, playing the piano or writing his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday” that is read by men and women from Alaska to Zimbabwe.