First, as a disclaimer, I am not a “work-out” guy. I use an exercise bike under protest because my doctor told me it would help with my health issues.
That being said, I try to find ways to make it to the end without stabbing myself through the face. This morning it was the classic album “In through the out door” by Led Zeppelin. Yes, I know the kind of people they were.
But I had some thoughts zipping through my brain as I was listening to “Fool in the Rain”. I cannot fathom the kind of skill it takes to play drums like that. John Bonham was an astoundingly gifted drummer.
And so I was thinking – to play drums like that, one would have to have a single minded focus for years. Hours and hours and hours of practice until perfection is reached. The drive must be there to accomplish that, as well as the follow through.
We rarely see that kind of dedication in music anymore. I can’t think of one modern drummer that has mastered the art to that degree.
So follow me – my mind wanders on the bike. (Keep pedaling, keep pedaling, keep pedaling. don’t scream, don’t stab, aaaauuuuuuuuughghghghghhghghg)
If I am going to fight against the chronic illness plaguing my body, I need to force myself through this…
If you are going to play drums like John Bonham, you need to put some effort in…
And then my mind goes to Paul:
7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1Timothy 4:7-8)
We are not naturally followers of God. We are not naturally Christ-like. We do not naturally practice love and kindness. We are not naturally quick to hear and slow to speak.
If a hedonist like John Bonham can exercise himself to the goal of drumming, should we not, as children of God, exercise ourselves to godliness?
And, no, I am not talking about the “godliness” of the Pharisee – polishing the outside while the inside rots away. I am talking about the humility to listen to what others have to say, to practice viewing people different than us as image-bearers of God, to practice patience and consciously choose to hope.
This is not our natural state. Our natural state is to follow “old wives fables” and every wind of doctrine. Our natural state is suspicion and anger and turning a deaf ear to the poor and needy. Our natural state is to look with contempt on those who think differently.
God would have us imitate him in love and kindness – with the promise of life now and life to come. And it isn’t our natural state.
This means we need to be uncomfortable for a while. We need to do those things that aren’t natural. Pick up the sticks and learn how to hold them. Keep your feet moving on the stupid machine even though every fiber of your being is telling you to quit.
Practice godliness. Practice stopping the mouth and listening. Practice submitting yourselves one to another. Practice kindness. Practice stretching your comfort level. If your preacher has never caused you to question a deeply held belief, he either isn’t doing his job, or you aren’t listening.
If godliness doesn’t come naturally, and if we are required to attain it, then we must exercise ourselves to it. This means that we will be different now than we were 5 years ago, 10 years ago.
If I do not stay on the exercise bike, my health will suffer. If John does not practice, he will never play drums. If you never change your mind, you will go to the grave alienated from God. Our default is failure, because of Adam. We must change, or die. And this includes AFTER we have become saved. If we do not grow, we should rightly question whether there is any life there at all.
If you have never changed your mind about anything ever, you are a drummer that has never practiced. Quit playing. No one wants to hear you beat your drum. Go home and practice. Then perhaps you will find yourself with something to say…
(I get snarky when I have to exercise…)