Author: K.A. Wypych
Book: Ten Iron Principles
About the Book:
Ten Iron Principles is a memoir about one woman’s perseverance and salvation through playing football on a boys’ junior varsity team and as she trained for the Ironman triathlon.Tweet
The Month of 1,000 Push-Ups
By K. A. Wypych
My friend decided to make January her month of 1,000 push-ups as a New Year’s goal of sorts. I mean, who doesn’t want nice arms, right? By her own admission, she is terrible at push-ups, so this was a pretty big deal. Apparently, after speaking to some co-workers about her goal, they started giving her grief.
“You’re gonna’ look like a dude by the end.”
“If the push-ups are so hard, why don’t you just stop?”
“You could just modify the goal and make it less.”
Clearly, she works amongst top-notch cheerleaders. However, I’m thankful for the opportunity to encourage her because there are lessons we can learn physically which can impact us spiritually.
What do I mean by that?
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
Paul talks about perseverance and endurance in reference to faith and pursuing our Kingdom purpose. He knows the enemy will come against believers who are making Kingdom noise. Paul understood that sometimes the hustle and grind can feel like standing still. He wanted to highlight the importance of pushing through and keeping on!
Kind of like my friend, maybe?
God chose a physical task, an Ironman triathlon, to speak to me in the greatest way and bring about the transformation of my life. I smoked intermittently (and socially) for most of a decade. I exercised 15-20 minutes a few times a week, and I have asthma. Yet, God called me to try something so physically challenging (so unbelievably physically challenging) in order to teach me perseverance.
I came face to face with the never-ending love of God while running. I discovered I’m capable of about 100x more than I ever dreamed possible. God showed me that tiny steps in the right direction are still steps in the right direction. I learned that sacrifice is necessary for success.
How did I learn these things?
God positioned and moved me into the best possible place for me to succeed (I didn’t even know what the goal was in the beginning, so it wasn’t my doing). He brought godly ladies into my life who supported my training and taught me what a woman walking with God looks like. God brought His love to me.
Like I said, I was a smoker who did some minor exercising. But, an Ironman? Do you know what that is? It’s a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run all in a row for a total of 140.6 miles. This is no joke.
The lessons I learned and wrote about in my book, Ten Iron Principles, may have been gleaned in the arena of athletics, but they are also applicable in the arena of life.
Physical Lessons Can Translate to Spiritual Gains
When training for a race, you need to start somewhere. If you already possess and maintain a high level of fitness, beginning a new training period won’t be that difficult for you. However, if you’re like most of us, starting a new regimen can seem overwhelming.
Every time I start a new training program, it takes about two months before I feel solid and start to receive positive feedback from my body. Unfortunately, before I “round the bend,” I feel like I’m slogging through quicksand in vain.
Sometimes our prayer lives can feel like this. We may pray and pray for something, but God doesn’t seem to be listening. Like our physical bodies, spiritual changes are likely taking place behind the scenes.
During the first few months of training, I don’t reap any benefits. I see no changes in performance. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Slowly, each workout builds on the next until I finally witness a difference.
I’m not saying that if you continue to pray, God will automatically answer your prayer the way you want. Sometimes the answer is, “no” and sometimes the prayer results in a change of heart rather than an external result. Nevertheless, Jesus says we should pray like the widow in Luke 18:1-8 who persistently went to an unrighteous judge to ask for legal protection. In the parable, the judge eventually relents and grants her request, if only to get her to stop bothering him. Jesus make the point that if an unjust judge will hear and address an honorable request, we can trust our good and righteous God to do so even more.
“now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?” (Luke 18:7, NASB)
Do you quit heading toward a goal at the first sign of discomfort? Are you willing to stick with a plan even when you can’t yet see results? Does this impact your spiritual life?
In physical health, a bit of math can be involved. For example, would you like to lose weight? Eat less calories. While macronutrients and balance are important, if you eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. In fitness, my performance on race day is proportional to the investment I made while training. If I wasn’t serious or solidly committed (maybe I missed a few workouts a week or shortened some of my key training sessions), this corner cutting will make itself known on race day.
Along the same lines, our relationship with God, how comfortable we feel, how much we understand Him, and if we know His voice, is proportional to the investment we make in getting to know Him. Our relationship with God is the same as any other relationship or friendship. If we show up for church occasionally on a Sunday but don’t serve or spend any real time with Him, then we are selling God and our relationship with Him short. You get out what you put in.
Are you spending quality time with God every day? Are you getting to know Him and who He says He is through the resources available to you? Do you only come to God when you need something?
3. Commitment is a Choice
When I research and sign up for a race, it gets put on the calendar. My priorities are evaluated and set. Sometimes, I have to cut things out, and other times, I need to add things in (like a coach or stretching). When I pay the fee for the race, I’m choosing to do whatever I can to make the finish line possible.
The same can be true in our relationships. Your commitment to your partner in a choice. It’s not something that grew out of a friendship or something you just “knew” the moment your eyes met. Maybe feelings and emotions travel along those highways, but your commitment to that person through thick and thin or to a friendship that’s having some rough patches is a choice. It’s not something that just happens.
Once a choice is made, those commitments need to be honored. No one signs up for a marathon and hopes it happens. Instead, sacrifice and plans are made to ensure a solid training period.
Are you being intentional with your time and your partner? Do you prioritize their needs? Are there friendships you could be pouring into?
I’m really proud of my friend for taking on a difficult physical goal. And, I’m proud of her for telling people and holding herself accountable to it. That’s no small thing!
God uses any and all things in our lives to teach and grow us into Christ-like beings. Not every part of your spiritual growth will happen at church. Some moments will occur at work, at home, or in unforeseen circumstances and unplanned events. And, some will happen when you put on your running shoes and head out for a quick jog in the sunshine.
My name is Kelly, and I’m an Ironman.
I never was much of an athlete, but God pulled me out of my comfort zone and put me in the world of endurance racing. In this environment, He could be the strength in my weakness.
As I trained, I became stronger physically and spiritually. In fact, I came to salvation through an Ironman triathlon. God showed me His goodness through sweat and pain.
Ten Iron Principles is a memoir that reveals this journey: from playing football on a boys’ junior varsity team to training for an Ironman triathlon in adulthood. From living apart from God to praying through a 2.4 mile swim. It’s the story of how God prepared me for my Kingdom purpose.