By Ross Carey
I hate to go to the gym! Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about 1:p.m., I force myself over to 24-Hour Fitness. I do it because I know I need to do it, for my own good and for my family´s good, and for the sake of serving the Lord well. (Last year I was urging my class of 70 Mexican students to take care of their bodies and mentioned that I exercise and lift weights at the gym and to my surprise, they laughed! Could they have noted my Barney Fife-like physique?)
I love to learn Scripture! And the thought came to me, “Why don´t I redeem the time and memorize Scripture at the gym while I´m on the treadmill and in between sets on the weight machines?” Umm…a little difficult to cart around my study Bible over there. So I hunted down a clear plastic holder attached to a lanyard and inserted verses which I printed up. With this hanging around my neck, I tackled Isaiah 40 and some Psalms. I wear it also hoping to pique interest and hopefully have a conversation about the Lord with those looking. I have gotten some questions from people: “What´s that for?” “Well, I´m memorizing some Bible passages.” Mostly I get blank looks…pause…and then a quick change of subject.
I had never learned a book so I chose Ephesians. I had been at it around a year at the gym and was working on chapter 6. On the way home, I usually wear the verses if I go to the grocery store and recently I stopped at a 99¢ Store to pick up some bananas. But I took off the holder muttering to myself that not many people show interest. Then I said, “Lord, should I wear this in there?” So I put it back on, entered, got my bananas, got in a check-out line and at the last moment switched to another line.
Since I am an alumnus of Brethren Christian High School, which is now in Huntington Beach, I was wearing a BCHS t-shirt (also to help start conversations). The cashier noticed the t-shirt and asked about it. Then her eyes fixated on my plastic verse-holder, her mouth dropped open, and stuttered, “What´s that?” I said something about being a follower of Jesus and so I was learning verses of Scripture. Stunned silence. Then she blurted, “I don´t believe this. I felt the Lord gave me that verse, verse 12, this morning, and there it is right there!” I replied to the now teary-eyed employee, “Well I think the Lord is giving you his double-confirmation that he did indeed give you that verse.”
Do you see how the Lord organized this to encourage one of his children?
1. I sometimes go to Ralph´s (more convenient) to pick up bananas.
2. I vacillated about wearing the verse holder into the store.
3. I was going to go through another check-out line.
4. I had just put a new set of verses in the holder at the gym that day.
5. Out of some 31,000 Bible verses possible, that passage was there.
6. Both sides of the holder have verses, but “her verse” was showing at the right time.
So I would like to encourage you. Prepare your heart to express Christ in some way as you leave home. Ask the Lord to give you the opportunity. In public, ask questions to show interest in people. If anything negative is mentioned, offer to pray for them on the spot. Wear clothes or jewelry that invite questions (available in Christian bookstores).
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. . . .Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Galatians 6:9 and 1 Cor. 15:58 NIV