Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Is Strength?

As long as I can remember, which is back in Virginia, age 4, hanging from the washing line uprights in my back yard with my next door neighbor trying to do a pull-up, I've been fascinated with strength. It wasn't until I was wrestling in high school that I truly understood the depth of that fascination.

Lately, I've been testing my strength in all sorts of ways I didn't expect, and very few of these involved weights.

So, what is strength?

The ability to lift the heaviest possible weight from the floor?

From the floor to overhead?

To lift a fixed weight as many times as possible in a given time period?

To run the fastest?

To run the furthest in the shortest time?

Some combination of the above?

Is it just for yourself?

Can you give it away?

Can someone take it from you?

Can you impose it unwillingly on others?

Is it like money in the bank?

I think it can be all of the above and much, much more.

As I have experienced it, I've come to realize strength has a very simple definition:
The Ability To Overcome.
It doesn't matter how you test it, it's whether you overcome the obstacle that's the measure of your strength.

I've also come to realize that strength is required for many, many things. Here are some of them:
  • To overcome temptation
  • To honor others
  • To honor your commitments
  • To turn the other cheek
  • To run from temptation
  • To run from evil
  • To stand and fight evil
  • To fight when you don't feel like it
  • To not fight when you do feel like it
  • To fight when you should and not fight when you shouldn't
  • To keep going no matter what the cost
  • To be courageous
  • To speak the truth even when it's uncomfortable
  • To love even when you don't feel like it
  • To withhold your love even when you desperately want to give it because it would be wrong to do so
  • To be accountable for your actions
  • To be honest
  • To defend those in need whether they know they're in need or not
  • To be humble
  • To admit you're wrong
  • To be gracious
  • To accept the praise of others
  • To protect yourself
  • To protect others
Those are just some of the things strength is used for.

I don't think I fully understood the meaning behind the title of my blog, Chasing Strength, when I chose it. Now I'm starting to...

So where does strength come from?

I'm sure there are many answers.

Some get it from addictions. Some get it from their significant other. Some get it from their kids. Some get it from competition. Some take it from others by force or coercion.

But I've come to realize there is another place--a better, safer, cleaner place.

The Bible says we are all created in the Image of God. So I can only assume after studying religion and philosophy in college and some theology since, that we are inherently born with a certain amount of it because God is Strength.

When I feel weak, I remember some of God's promises to me:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Joshua 1:9
And probably my favorite:

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

This begs at least two questions:

"Why are we designed in God's image to be strong?"
And
"Why are we designed to renew our strength in God?"

John Eldredge sums up these answers to these questions in his book, Wild At Heart.

To give my strength, God's strength, to those who need it.

For me, one of the places I receive my strength is on the platform.

It has become a place, one of the best places, to connect and meet with God. It has become for me, a holy place--a place set apart. This is why weightlifting is so important to me. It draws me close to God. It gives me strength.

I can't believe it has taken me 12 years to get here.

Thank God I have.

11 Comments:

Blogger Frankie Faires said...

Geoff,

I love this definition of strength. Well done.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Howie Brewer said...

Wow. I don't think I've ever come across anything as profound, and real, as this. Thanks.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Iron Tamer said...

I love the list Geoff. You are so right on the money wth this one.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Franz Snideman said...

Simply brilliant! God is God and obviously knows what is best for us!
Because he is strong...we must be strong! Love it!

4:55 PM  
Blogger Mark Reifkind said...

great post geoff. excellent and right on the money.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Thank you, men.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Jason Rhymer said...

Another great post that will probably be shared at church soon! Could there be a minister emerging from the lifter? Hey, we are all ministers in some way, right? Great work, friend!

9:59 AM  
Blogger Brett Jones said...

"the ability to overcome" - great stuff and well said - strength is a window to our deeper souls - it reveals much.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Mike T Nelson said...

Excellent stuff Geoff! The definition of strength is right on!
Keep up the great work!
rock on
Mike N

2:00 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Thanks Mike and Jason. And Jason, you are more than welcome to use anything you find on this site for sharing at your church--I forgot to give you "permission" like you asked on my 11/3 post.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Tim Anderson said...

Excellent.

7:17 PM  

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