Burpees with God

Burpees with God

And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly. Exodus 25:30

If you’ve ever put yourself through any athletic training – from high school sports to running a 5k – you know that training involves putting yourself through the uncomfortable. So it is with CrossFit training. No one likes burpees. They’re an absurd exercise. If you’re unfamiliar with burpees, they’re a completely pointless movement that exists simply of falling face down and popping back up . . . over and over. It’s a ridiculous thing to do, except that it’s a simple way to improve exercise capacity. CrossFit inevitably involves such exercises and so it’s not unusual to find myself in the middle of a grueling workout, asking myself why I’m doing burpees. During those times, with my whole body in pain and I’m thinking about quitting, I’ll often go to a place in my mind where I’m simply talking with God. It’s a distraction from the misery of what I’m doing at the moment, but it’s also a practical way to practice a profound reality – God is constantly present, but I’m often not aware of it unless I purposefully take time for him.

This is the lesson of today’s passage. In it, God gave his people several ceremonial rules regarding the ark of the covenant and their tabernacle. In the tabernacle, there was to be a special table for bread, where the Israelites were to continually keep fresh bread out as an offering to God. It seems a strange practice to me, but the name of the bread – presence bread – provides some insight. The purpose of this presence bread was to teach God’s people that he was constantly present with them. God was present in their lives, even in mundane events such as the eating of a simple meal.

God’s presence in my life is an important reality that I’m still learning to recognize. Not unlike burpees, experiencing God’s presence isn’t something I’m naturally good at. If I want to get better in the gym, I must practice, putting in the daily effort. So it is with my spiritual sensitivity. If I want to be aware of God in my life, I must practice spending time with him, even in the mundane events of life. God is always present. I’m just not often aware of it. I can read my Bible and pray the morning, but as soon as I leave the house, the busyness of life has a way of distracting me. If I choose to do so though, I can go through my day with God, recognizing his presence even during – or particularly during – monotonous activities like burpees.

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