Monday, March 11, 2013

Life on a Treadmill

My thrice-weekly exercise regimen of cardio and weight training includes 15-20 minutes on the treadmill each day. Right-left, right-left. It’s a rigorous commitment to going nowhere – but making great time! Seconds click past, I work up a sweat, and my heart gets pumping. When I finish, however, I’m still in the same place I started.

Isn’t life like that sometimes? Actually, it’s often like that. We’re moving as fast as possible, doing everything we can think of, feeling like we’re making excellent progress, then ultimately realize we’re getting nowhere.

Maybe it’s a career, working day after day, year after year, a steady dose of the mundane mixed with a dash or two of interesting and different. In the end we can’t help but wonder, “Am I really accomplishing anything?” As someone has said, the problem with being caught up in the rat race is the rat never seems to win.

How's life on the treadmill going for you?
Home life’s the same way: Changing diapers, preparing meals, washing clothes, chauffeuring kids from place to place, putting dishes in the dishwasher (and taking them out), vacuuming and mopping the floors, fixing the bed, mowing the lawn, carrying out the trash, watching a bit of TV, doing a little reading, and tumbling into bed. Just so we can do it again the next day.

Makes us want to belt out the refrain from old Peggy Lee song, “It that all there is?”

Like it or not, the “treadmill” is a big part of everyday life. Sometimes it seems like competing in a marathon with no finish line. Grudgingly, we persist. We endure. But does it have to be that way?

My favorite devotional writer, Oswald Chambers, observed:

“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen.”

See the distinction? Some people must endure chronic pain with little or no hope of relief. Or someone might endure a difficult work situation out of necessity – to leave would mean being unemployed. But perseverance means steadfastly pursuing a goal, having a desired objective in sight.

That’s why I return to the treadmill three times a week, trudging along step after step, getting no place fast. My goal is staying fit, keeping trim, and avoiding a rerun of my 2006 open-heart surgery. I don’t just endure each outing; I persevere with those ends in mind.

The apostle Paul frequently wrote about this. He said, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us…” (Romans 5:3-5). Elsewhere he stated, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). His clear focus enabled him to keep on keepin’ on.

Another apostle, James, made this observation: “…know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

Helen Keller overcame incredible physical adversity to build a inspiring life that left an indelible mark. Despite being blind and deaf, she observed, “We can do anything we want if we stick to it long enough.”

Too many people these days, it seems, have settled for endurance. Why not set goals, even lofty ones, and then persevere, determined to achieve them – even if it demands everything we have?

1 comment:

Buckeyes Fan said...

A treadmill and life itself does have that in common. You know you're cardiovascular system has improved but you somehow end up at the same place you started. It didn't matter which treadmill you hop on because they all supposedly feel the same. Not anymore. My daughter taught me that you don't have to 'just run' on a treadmill. You can mix things up. Walk backwards, side to side and 'play around with the buttons' (incline)

Go bucks!