I have found encouragement in the strangest place.
Do you remember camp? For you it might have been church camp, scout camp, or even band camp. Camps hold special memories for some people. There are all sorts of stories that can be told about camp. Many boys and girls got their first kiss at church camp. An equal number of young people gave their lives to Christ or surrendered to a call to ministry at church camp. Scout camp was all about the tents, the cooking, and the s’mores. I never went to band camp, but I do know the mantra, “This one time at band camp….” Camp is a great word.
Gladiator was a movie starring Russell Crowe. In many gladiatorial events the gladiators fought to the death. In the Roman Empire there were also Gladiatrix. These were women Gladiators who also fought to the death. The men fought in the daylight, the women fought by torch light. A gladiator was a warrior who was very much in shape.
Most of my church staff signed up for Camp. They wanted me to sign up for Camp too. I remembered camp and the pleasant experience of camp, so I said, “Sure, I’ll sign up for camp.” They said, “Sarah is coming to talk to us about camp and she is bringing orange juice and muffins to our staff meeting.” Sarah goes to church here, she is very nice and her family is very nice. I thought Sarah is signing us up for something nice.
So we had our staff meeting and the orange juice and muffins made the meeting fly by. I and several staff members signed up for Camp….Gladiator. I signed up for an exercise camp that has the word Gladiator in the title. What have I done to myself? 100% of the Roman Gladiators and Gladiatrix are dead. Gladiator is not good!
I will note for you that I am in the top ten oldest campers. I am old enough to be the father of most of the other campers. They are amazing people who are juggling children, schedules and careers to work out. The leaders are full of encouragement even for us very slow uncoordinated people. I try to keep the work out leaders laughing so they won’t notice that my sit-ups consist of only sit. I have yet to master the up.
I have attempted to do things that I swore back in the 70’s I would never do again. I am sure a couple of football coaches are looking down from heaven or up from the other place laughing at me.
Here is the thing about encouragement. I am pushing myself to do something that is awkward and I am surviving. Most ministers try not to look awkward. Trying to do a sit up is awkward. I have the same issue with push-ups. There is not much pushing. So my push-ups are mostly stay downs on the mat. No one has laughed at me yet. Some of the agility exercises are like dance moves. I have a Methodist heart but I still have Baptist feet and I was born in 4/4 time and can’t do exercises that involved skipping which is ¾ time.
It won’t be long until I do a face plant as a result of an agility exercise.
It hurts to do some of the stuff. I have whole muscle groups in open rebellion. I have told them they can’t get a better deal any place else. I know that I am not alone in these challenges. I’m one of several at that work out seeking to improve their health. The folks working out are all nice to me and they don’t laugh at anyone. There is something about shared misery that binds a group together!
I am reminded each time I show up that following Jesus is matter of effort and commitment. It is also a matter of being held accountable. I did keep my promise to my workout cohorts that what happens at the workout stays at the workout! They were suspicious that I might turn our workouts into an article. Am I that transparent? I want to say to all of them, “you have encouraged me.” I say a prayer for each of you while I am working out. That is why my counting is confused, I’m trying to count and pray!
I am encouraged when I think that what Jesus did for me was not easy. It was hard. Actually what he did for me was excruciating. What is my discomfort compared to His death? I am encouraged each day when I complete a workout because I have kept a commitment.
You can find encouragement in tough times when people cheer you on and when you find yourself surviving a hard thing like Camp. If you are interested in this spiritual experience I can introduce you to my friend Sarah. I have found this Camp has helped me walk with Jesus.