Comfortable Resistance

So I joined a spinning class last night. Silly me.

Five minutes into the warm-up, I knew I was in big trouble. My bike was adjusted so that I was 10 feet in the air, the handlebars were waaayyy far away, and the tiny seat was causing all sorts of painful sensations in all sorts of… places.

In the midst of sweat, grunts, and music by Journey, the spinning instructor repeatedly referred to the torture as “our ride.” She said in breathy tones, “Envision that yellow jersey in front of you. Reeaaaaccchhh for it.” I muttered, “Honey, this ain’t the Tour de France, and I ain’t no Lance Armstrong…. I’m Muffin Top.”

At one point in our ride, (after doing “killer hills”) the instructor told us to adjust the setting on our bikes. “You want comfortable resistance here.”

Comfortable resistance. What in the world is that? The only comfort I know is no resistance, baby. So, being the non-compliant rebel that I am, I set the bike at zero resistance. If you’ve ever ridden a bike in your life, you probably know what happened next. I began spinning my wheels – my balance was lost, my legs went out of control and I was bouncing up and down in my elf-seat. I was literally working against myself.

I had to put on my emergency brake and re-adjust the settings.

In order to get myself through the rest of the class I pondered the phrase comfortable resistance. Resistance (in terms of exercise) is meant to increase muscle strength and improve endurance.

Andrea’s recent post at Autism Unplugged, inspired me to view “resistance” in my “ride” as trials, struggles, disappointment, waiting-on-answer-prayers, heartache, etc. In the past, I certainly preferred the no resistance setting. When resistance came, I initially resented it. Lately I’m learning to appreciate it – I am almost comfortable with it. Because I know it’s the only way to increase strength and faith and improve endurance.

Paul writes about being given a thorn in the flesh, which he says prevented him from becoming conceited. While it is not revealed what this thorn was – some have guessed that it was a physical affliction – suffice to say that it tormented him. Paul prayed earnestly three times that it be removed, but God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12)

“Thorns in the flesh” help us discover the strength of weakness. I have realized that my own strength is greatly limited – resistance has shown me that. It was in Rhema’s room less than a year ago when I threw my hands up and said, “I give up. I’ve done everything I know to do. You take her, Lord, and make something beautiful out of her life. I choose not to be bitter. I choose to trust you no matter what.”

I am not enough. But God – His strength and grace – is more than I could ever need.

From my favorite dude, Charles Spurgeon –
No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.

Alas, tomorrow I will drag my sore gluteus maximus back to spinning class.
It’s all about Getting Stronger…

10 thoughts on “Comfortable Resistance

  1. Spinning. Wow! That’s quite an undertaking. Thanks – I needed a push toward the elliptical. It’s supposed to be relocated to my office, to drive me to distraction, but I can’t get it here myself. Until then, I better stop ignoring it.

  2. Yeah! There’s victory in the submission…that day in Rhema’s room. Thanks for the plug. I love that Spurgeon quotation especially the glacier image. Thanks for the encouragement fellow traveler. Spin, I do not! But I did take a few ballroom dance lessons and a proper box step has that resistance too between the partners upper arms–making the elegance of the dance.

  3. Seems like “comfortable resistance” could be applied to a lot of things, doesn’t it? And, your point about spinning out of control when you chose “no resistance” is very enlightening … and encouraging.

    Thanks for sharing this … and good for you for trying the spinning class! One of my best friends teaches a spinning class; I’ve never taken it, though … she might do me in! 🙂

  4. I took a spinning class… once. Yikes. You better get a gel seat. Great post, and it’s so true how God grows us most through our struggles.

  5. still laughing from “muffin top”!! i just love you!
    but so proud of you for starting the class! whoa. that is serious.
    yikes on the resistance but yes, we are building our faith muscle! it reminded me of the scripture in james 1:2-4
    and also romans 5:3-5
    seems the bible has a lot to say about trials! but i love that it is because God is trying to produce something in us that is actually for our good. “not lacking anything”… let it be so in our lives!

  6. sorry, i accidentally commented out the scripture! here it is again:

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
    james 1:2-4

    We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us…
    romans 5:3-5

  7. “You take her, Lord, and make something beautiful out of her life.”

    J, This is it. Let’s remind each other of this on the days we need reminding. Love you. C.

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