The Treadmill of Life

-an article for the March 2001 Deep Cove Crier

For some time now, my wife has been encouraging me to get back on the treadmill.  I enjoy walking, especially throughout the spectacular trails interwoven through our local community.  But I had a lot of prejudice towards the idea of spending time on a seemingly never-ending treadmill at the local gym.

A year later, I am a ‘convert’ regarding the benefits of Rec Centre treadmills.  I feel healthier, stronger, and more peaceful inside.  I actually look forward now to doing the very thing that I dreaded.  Lifting weights, maybe.  Stretching, perhaps.  But working out on the treadmill, never!

Part of what changed my mind was being ‘reared ended’ by a taxi a year and a half ago.  I started going for various treatments to loosen up my neck and shoulders, but nothing seemed to really last.  The neck spasms and headaches had a nasty habit of sapping a lot of my energy needed for work and family.  Finally Dr. Paul Wiggins, while adjusting my aching back, said to me: ‘You need a personal trainer’.  My immediate reaction was to try to graciously change the subject.  Paul however is very persistent in a kindly way, and the next thing I knew, I was meeting with a personal trainer at the local Rec Centre.  I have been involved in many sports and exercise programs over the years.  Sooner or later I usually would push it too far and too fast, and injure myself.  Once injured and ‘humbled’, I often thought twice before ‘getting back in the ring’.

Thanks to six sessions with a personal trainer, I have finally learned how to pace myself, and as a result, I have only injured myself once since getting back to the gym.  I have learnt that the secret to virtually all the gym equipment is going ‘one step at a time’.  Patience, while not my strongest characteristic, is definitely a virtue in the weight room!

Sometimes the daily routines of life like work, taking our children to school, etc, can seem like a never-ending treadmill.  Many suffer from exhaustion and feel like crying out: ‘Stop the treadmill! I want to get off.’  Those of us who work out on Rec Centre treadmills know how dangerous it can be to get off a treadmill before it actually stops.  As I was working out this morning on a Rec Centre treadmill, I sensed that perhaps there are two different treadmills in our lives: treadmills of life and treadmills of death.  Treadmills of life bring strength, encouragement and renewed hope. Treadmills of death bring weariness, discouragement, and monotony.  Many medieval treadmills were even designed as punishment for prisoners who would be given no rest.

What helps me keep going on the Rec Centre treadmill is the practice of silently lifting up names of people I care for.  Rather than worry about these people, I have been learning how to give them back to the Lord, and trust that they are safe in his hands.  Working out on the treadmill teaches me that I am not called to worry about tomorrow, but rather to just take one step at a time, one day at a time.  Even though it may feel like my time on the treadmill is endless, experience has taught me that sooner or later it comes to an end.  So too, the treadmill of life is over far more suddenly than many of us expect.  Every funeral that I attend reminds me that even the best vitamins, the best sports workout, the best vacations can only delay temporarily the inevitable day of my last step on the treadmill of planet earth.

With Easter just around the corner, I am reminded that Jesus dismantled the treadmill of death by his death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  As a result, I no longer am chained to that ‘medieval treadmill’ of decay.  I choose to take ‘one step at a time’ on the treadmill of life, life that is abundant, exciting, and eternal.  See you this Easter at God’s Gym!

The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector, St. Simon’s Anglican Church

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St. Simon's Anglican Church 
North Vancouver, B.C.