For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:3
His name was Jason…I called him Igor. Several years ago, it was one of those times when it was time to do something. The high humidity in my closet had once again shrunk most of my clothes. It is just one of the hazards of living in Southern Illinois between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. While it is always the worst in summer, somehow, it manages to shrink my clothes right after the holidays too. So, rather than go out and buy new duds, I just try and lose a few pounds.
About that time I was at church one Sunday morning and mentioned to a good friend of mine that I was going to try and shed a few pounds. Well, he said to me, “Dewayne, I’ve got a personal trainer at the gym and how about if I arrange for you to see him three times a week. By Easter, you will be a new man.” I had never seen, much less had, a personal trainer, so it sounded like a good idea to me. Maybe he could speed up the weight loss so I could get back to my bad eating habits…that I greatly enjoyed.
For my birthday that year, Judy and I drove over to Evansville on a mission to get me a couple of sets of gym clothes. We got to Sears and they had what used to be called running suits on sale. They don’t call them that anyone—they are called out of style. Anyway, I bought one. It had the pants and the jacket, and I looked like, well, a dude. I was to start working out with Jason, the trainer, on Monday. I put on my fancy running outfit and drove over to the gym. I opened the door and instantly realized that I was way overdressed. Remember the joke about the guy being told that he was going to a costume party so he dressed up and nobody else did? Well, I was the guy. Bummer.
A few minutes later I met Jason and he kinda explained what we would be doing over the next few months. He explained that he was going to make my body hurt…a lot. Well, he didn’t actually say that, but that was the reality. The very first day I could barely walk to my car. The next morning I wasn’t sure if I was going to live. Fortunately, I was meeting with Jason every other day so I had a day to decide if it was fatal or not. By the end of the week I had changed Jason’s name to Igor because I was sure he got some sort of sick pleasure out of watching me suffer. And I did suffer…a lot.
Over our time together, we did lots of fun things, but my absolute favorite were squat thrusts. It was some kind of deal when you squatted down and then kicked your legs out the back. Then you returned to the squat position before standing back up. I’ve obviously never had a baby, so I have no idea what labor pains feel like. But I do know this. If leg squats were even 20% like a labor pain, then if the repopulation of the world depended on me it would be a very small world. Total population: One.
Well, I don’t remember making it to Easter. Things did get toned up a bit, but I wouldn’t exactly say I was a new man. I did get a new perspective on these guys and ladies who go to the gym and apply self-inflicted Igor-ism. That is the self-infliction of Igor like pain on themselves. You’ve got to admire them—but as for me that would be from outside the torture chamber—uh, I mean gym.
Now there is one thing I need to make sure is clear. Igor, I mean Jason, had my best interest in mind. He was trying to help me reach my goals and help me be in better physical condition. It just wasn’t a pleasant experience…at least not on the front end anyway. But do you know what? Rarely are the things that really matter. I know the Bible teaches me that trials are not easy, and they are never fun, but they are profitable because they teach me endurance. That’s what James, Jesus’ little half-brother, meant when he said that when our faith is tested, our endurance has a chance to grow. Going through the hard stuff strengths our faith. And, trust me, that is a good thing.
Shortly after I quit going to be with Igor at the gym, I ran into him at one of the stores in town. Actually, while I ran into him, I wanted to run from him. But we chatted and he asked how I was doing. I said fine. He said he missed seeing me at the gym, and I made some kind of flimsy excuse, like I had a rare terminal African disease. I don’t think he bought it. So, we parted our ways. I was grateful for his help, but I was also grateful that my gym days were over.
While I don’t see Igor anymore, I’ve got to be sure I don’t give up on my real personal trainer—Jesus. Like Jason knew what was best to help me physically, He knows what is best for me spiritually. He encourages me, always has my best interests at heart, and never makes a wrong call. He allows me to pace myself and allows me to rest when I need it. He’s the best life trainer of all. And I know this for certain. If I falter or fail, He will be there because, He’s got this.