Spin class. The name sounds so casual for the exercise hell it represents.
Alissa Stinnet, she stands all of 5'2”, tiny little waif of a woman with a quick smile and a sense of humor, but she has a spine of steel when it comes to pushing us, cheering us on, dragging us when necessary, and she teaches spin at the North Side Y where my wife and I and 14 others sit for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday. In fact, if you don't show up 30 minutes early, there will not be a bike for you, and at least one person is frequently disappointed.
Sitting on a stationary bicycle, peddling seems easy enough, except that its much more than that. Spin class, in a way represents so much in life. You are in control of the tension, how much you are willing to suffer to get the body you want, to get more energy, to improve your health. Are you staying on the surface, or are you willing to make yourself deeply uncomfortable to achieve your Goals?
This morning, about half way into the workout, disappointed with our efforts Alissa says this, “ Come on! Add up the tension! It's okay to be uncomfortable!” and a groan almost escapes my lips followed by a sarcastic response, but then it hits me, she's right!
Internally I go into Alice in Wonderland mode and chase this particular rabbit down its hole into a universe of ideas that is one of my favorite places. As I fall, ideas begin to take form, words, thoughts, feelings merge into something more, a conviction. The feeling that I am about to taste some truth for the first time!
A wave of scenes from my life washes over me and in an instant I see myself more clearly. “It is okay to be uncomfortable”, on the surface this is something that I believe, that you don't always need more, don't always have to get everything you want to be happy, that happiness is a product of finding contentment with things as they are, not the finish line of a race to obtain. But, in this instant there is more. I am reminded of specific instances in my life, instances when I have been stirred to action by some perceived injustice, some wrong carried out against another that needs to be righted, and I watch my reactions.
Initially I wait, I think about these things, I feel around inside myself to find out what is stirring me, make sure this is a God deal, and in most cases come up with a yes! Then I watch as the situations progress, see my prayer, my asking for a solution, for resolution. I watch my descent into frustration, anger and finally see the limit I reach, the depths I go to before taking action, before speaking out, the level of frustration and anger that has forced me to react. But then I notice something. The place that I come to in each case is nowhere near as deep as I could go, not as deep as I can be pushed, but my level of discomfort becomes too high, the price to steep to keep it internal.
I ask God about this, and he understands, he sees my frustration and the fruit of it as a misplaced reaction to a genuine injustice, there is no judgment for me from him for my sometimes immature reactions, but he looks down, into the depths and holds out his hand. As I take it, we drop, down, inside of me, deeper than I have consciously been before, down to the seat of my soul, down to the place inside where God has taken root and changed me on a cellular level. Into the heart of God for me, and those I think to protect. Down into that place where the Psalmist says, Deep Calls to Deep!
And as I reach that level, below where my conscious mind can follow, into a realm of pure spirit, I sense that there are solutions, answers here that go beyond my simple reactions. Things that I do not access from the physical realm. This is the place where that battle that is not against flesh and blood takes place, but it is not in the way that I have heard it. Not in the way that I have been taught, there is nothing militant, or angry, or striving here, it is a force too large for those simple, violent ideas, it is the source of all. It has the flow of the oceans, with the strength and volume of a mountain. It roars silently around me, carries me so effortlessly, that although I know I am moving very fast toward something, deeper and deeper, there is no sensation of moving, I am one with this force. And as quickly as I am there, I am here, back, the wheel still spinning, the music still playing, but there is an understanding.
This is it. In those times when I see wrongs that must be righted, God is challenging me to press into him, until I no longer have the need to seek exterior answers. Until the solution is around me and in me and through me, until I give up in total surrender and am willing to suffer, at times in silence, other times suffering with a loud voice of warning, but always willing to not seek a human solution, until I am released to do so, and then only to follow Him, into the solution He wants. To dive deep to the heart of God and bring up solutions that surpass my human understanding, supersede my human need for justice and bring the cause of heaven to bear on the situations of life.