Halfway through my workout class, the instructor made a comment she’d never made before; in an effort to keep us on track she remarked that the last repetitions of our current weight-lifting track were the most important.
Between wiping sweat (and I usually don’t sweat) and finishing my reps, I played her words over again in my mind. The last repetitions are the most important. Toward the end of class, she explained why these last ten minutes of class were the most important. She said the end of the exercise is where the muscles are most fatigued, and the easiest recourse is to just give up. The beginning is the maintaining phase, using muscles to the degree they’re comfortable but without much resistance. But as you progress and your body becomes exhausted, your muscles transition into the transformation stage. During the last few minutes, when they are tired and the struggle is real; this is when the muscles become stronger and change happens.
Because my mind is always searching for spiritual meaning in the everyday nuances around me, and perhaps due to the realization that a majority of the people I currently do life with are half my age, this comment from the gym coach struck me as profound wisdom for my current lot in life. In whatever situation I find myself, the last few minutes are the most important.
My husband and I are in a delightful stage of life. We have adult children; a few are rewarding us with grandchildren and others are including us in great conversations about life decisions. We’re keeping in mind that we’re approaching the last ten minutes. In my reading this morning, I came across these verses in Psalm 71:17-18, “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”
We’ve been parenting and mentoring for a long time. On some days exhaustion and fatigue set in and slowing down seems quite attractive. Retiring and just enjoying ourselves are themes our culture tells us we deserve. We’ve worked hard and long and it’s finally our time to relax – so we’ve been told. But God is reminding us that perhaps these are the most important times. We must not slow down or give in; transition is coming, and our lives are gaining strength.
The lyrics of a song sung at our wedding remain our mantra for today:
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion
Light their way.
May the footprints that we leave,
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey.
O may all who come behind us
Find us faithful. (Steve Green)