Every Tuesday as I push through the glass door of our local gym, I see the same older woman. On the same stationery bike. With the same bland expression on her face.
The first day I saw her, I really didn’t notice her. I walked purposefully behind her and climbed onto the treadmill next to her. I carefully pushed in my earphones and began tapping out instructions on the treadmill’s panel indicating my speed and time for that session.
As I adjusted my music, I heard the woman say, “Oh, you’re one of those techy people.” Well, I thought that statement was hysterical as I’ve never been called a “techy” type before. If my sons were there, they would have burst out in laughter.
I told her I really wasn’t one and that I just liked to have music to keep me entertained while I tortured myself on that machine. By this point, I’m thinking, “I just want to get this 35 minutes over with and get out of here.”
But the woman wanted to talk. She related the difficulty she had had in her career when everything switched over to computers and how she lost all of her students’ grades one semester. I nodded in sympathy and was starting my warm up period walking on the conveyor belt moving beneath my tennies.
She looked up at me and said, “Well, you’re young so it comes easy for you. I’m 65 and don’t even bother trying anymore.”
I laughed as I fessed up my age.
“But you don’t have gray hair like I do,” she continued.
“I color my hair,” I smiled. Again I turned my attention to the treadmill and the Christian music piping through my head. Thoughts started blowing through my mind that maybe I was supposed to be sharing the Lord with her. So I told her I was listening to Christian music.
“Oh, I’m a believer, too,” the woman said. I was skeptical. The usual glow wasn’t there. “When I was 55, God let me have a stroke and He said, ‘Time’s up for using your right arm,’ and I said, ‘Ok, God. If that’s the way you want my arm to be.’ I was okay with whatever He wanted.'”
Shocked, I almost lost my step on the treadmill and grabbed the side bars.
Who was witnessing to whom here, I wondered. But I really knew. The Lord was showing me what true acceptance of His will looked like. This frail woman, who didn’t like technology or computers, who balked at having to ride a bike, and who didn’t have a great big smile on her face was still a woman who knew God and accepted His ways.
The rest of my minutes were spent contemplating how someone could just accept the loss of their career and a permanent frailty so casually as coming from the hand of God and not feel resentment. What would be my attitude in a similar situation? Would I be as accepting? Would I continue on doing what was necessary for my health knowing that everything I had worked for was just taken away from me by the God I trusted?
I knew I’d be the type to kick and bang against the cage I felt trapped in. I knew anger and resentment would probably rear their ugly heads. And I knew it would be a long time before I would be at peace like the woman pedaling next to me was with whatever God had allowed in my life.
I’ve had the pleasure of trekking along beside this woman on a couple of other occasions and I see how she graciously takes her husband’s arm as he leads her out of the gym. I’ve heard her speak of the Lord and the miracles He has done for her as well. I’ve listened, when I unplug from my techy phone, and I’ve seen someone who has walked through the valley and come out on the other side with the Lord walking beside her and living within her.
Next time, I’ll listen more carefully to the thoughts in my head and figure out who the Lord really wants to speak to.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-10 NIV
From My Heart To Yours,