By Jadihel Rodriguez, FAITH RXD Houma, LA Chapter Director.
Today is all about peace. So many times in our faith, our lives, our workouts, we tend to take our mind off what truly matters, and we focus on things that bring anxiety into our hearts. In faith, this happens when we take our eye off of Jesus. In workouts, we often encounter movements that we feel are too difficult for us to complete. But did you forget everything in CrossFit is scalable? Make peace with the fitness level you have been gifted, and remember fitness is obtained one workout, one round, and one rep at a time.
14 snatches 135/95
14 burpee box jump overs
14 snatches 135/95
14 bar muscle ups
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”
Ephesians 2:14 ESV
Have you ever felt like you are in a constant battle? Like every day is a war between you and your spouse? Your parents? Coworkers? Maybe it’s a continuous war vs. your children. All of the above? For fitness enthusiasts, that war can even extend itself against the mirror and against the scale. Perhaps, it can even spill over to the barbell and the gym floor. What an exhausting thing, yet it is the reality for so many of us, even mine.
I started my journey as both athlete and coach at Great White CrossFit, in Hackensack New Jersey- Yerrrrrrrrrr! Only my Jersey people will understand, haha.
As their fundamentals coach, my favorite part was asking athletes what they were looking to get out of CrossFit. The answers varied, from your typical “I just want to get toned” to “I am looking for something more.” Truth be told, I would venture to say the vast majority of athletes start exploring fitness in search to fill a hole in their hearts. They try to fill it with sex, money, career, kids, marriage, power, competition.
I am blown away by how many times I learned women got into fitness in hopes of looking a certain way. Thinking if they can change their outward appearance, then perhaps they’ll be able to find love. And I am not talking about just love from the opposite sex. I am talking about self-love as well. That feeling of self-worth and value.
But this is not exclusive to women. Men deal with unsettled feelings much the same. There was a season in my life where I dedicated myself to fitness to upgrade from romantic partner to romantic partner. I was so broken and hurt from past relationships that I poured everything I had into CrossFit. I searched for the ideal body to attract women of the opposite sex that would be considered more attractive than my previous relationships. And yet, when I achieved what I set out to do, I found myself right back where I started. Broken, sad, unsettled. This time with the added vanity and shallowness which I brought on to myself.
I can go on and on with different ways men and women step foot into the gym, trying to cope with feelings. Heck, it does not have to be the gym. Many of us have experimented with drugs. Many of us can recall seasons where we coped with stress by drinking a bottle of wine or smoking marijuana.
If you are reading this, I hope you grant me the grace to challenge the way we think about peace. Far too often, as described above, we think about peace as merely a feeling. An emotional high of sorts. As Christians generally, we mistake peace for something that we go to Jesus for as if it were a high comparable to what we get post-workout.
When we search for the feeling of peace, we neglect to search for God. Don’t seek feelings of peace; seek Jesus!
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
I never knew what that word “yoke” meant. When I later learned that it was the apparatus used to connect agricultural mules for the plow of the land, I almost broke down in tears. That was me, heavy laden, tired, weary, exhausted from fighting my God. I urge you to think about what C.S. Lewis once said, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
I know firsthand what it is like to search the world for the praise of men and treasures apart from Jesus’ yoke. I know what it is like to fill that hole in my heart with the gems of this world. Only to have them fade away and leave me thirsting for more.
I got news for you. CrossFit is not going to fill that hole in your heart. The podium won’t. Those muscle-ups won’t. Those abs won’t. Fitness will let you down, just like that job, your spouse, those kids, that brand new car. And when you are done having your fill of the treasures of this world, you’ll find yourself looking for the next fix. I know I did.
Law school? ✅
NY bar exam? ✅
Trial attorney? ✅
College professor? ✅
North American Grappling Association champion? ✅
CrossFit competition podium? ✅
Check, check, check. My journey in faith wasn’t one of failure. Quite the contrary. It was one where I made an idol of myself after the gluttony of success. And yet there I stood, with that hole in my heart. Massive as ever. Chasing feelings in empty wells instead of letting the Word of God define and lead me to peace.
“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” -Isaiah 32:17 ESV
Praise God for His Word! It sufficiently provides all the answers we need in life. “The EFFECT of righteousness will be peace.”
Did you catch that? You can have peace. All you need is righteousness! The word effect is defined as a consequence or something that happens as a result. So if peace is a consequence of righteousness, how do we obtain it?
First, we must define righteousness. It is a fancy word for holy or justified. But justified from what? How is holiness even possible?!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 6:23 ESV
And here we have it. We are justified from our sin because we have all sinned against a holy and perfect God. It’s not that different from working out, you know. All of us know that feeling of waking up the next day and driving ourselves to the gym because of what we ate the night before. It’s our way of atoning for what we did the night before and our guilt.
The problem is when it comes to our spiritual life and atoning for our sins, we have earned a spiritual death. Separated from God’s love and, in turn, forever in the presence of His justice and wrath. The good news, however, the gospel, is that in his loving mercy and grace, Yahweh created a way to stand justified of our sins, holy in His presence, righteous.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6 ESV
And there you have it. We are made righteous through our faith in Jesus as the Christ. And peace is a mere consequence/effect of that faith in Jesus as the Christ. What a great truth!
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Romans 5:1 ESV
One of the biggest misconceptions about humanity’s relationship with God is that we are born children of God and inherently good. On the contrary, scripture tells us we are born children of wrath, at odds with God. And thus, it is THIS sinful nature that does not allow us to live in peace. For how could we? When we are at war with God. It is not until we have been justified by faith through Jesus that we make peace with God.
So you see? Peace is not a feeling. It is not a drug-like quick fix that we come in and out of. Peace is a state of us, the unrighteous sinner, being in good standing with our creator due to the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” -2 Thessalonians 3:16
QUESTIONS FOR GROUP DISCUSSION OR PERSONAL JOURNALING:
- What was the workout like for you? Did God reveal anything to you while you did it?
- Is there an area of your life you’re needing to persevere in?
- Is there an aspect of perseverance you struggle with the most?
- What ways were you challenged by in today’s message?