This is about motivation.
Lately, there have been some days where it has been harder to get up than others.
It reminds me of a time when I was completely without motivation, when I had little desire to do anything and it felt like I had to lift the weight of the world just to get out of bed each day.
Then a switch flipped for me.
The turning point was anger.
One day I lost a lunch break just trying to decide what to eat. I wasted an entire hour brooding over what I had a taste for. There was this unhealthy obsession about what meal would please me the most. I would later realize that what I was really doing was looking for how food could provide enough good to makeup for how bad I was feeling elsewhere in my life, the sadness about my failures, about not measuring up, about not getting ahead, about my marriage…
In the beginning food was a salve. It could make me feel better for a little while. But it’s effect was diminishing to a point where the grief was too great for any amount of titillating tastes, perfect textures, soothing chewing or sheer volume of food to overcome.
On that lunch break I came to terms with the reality that food could not fill the hole in my heart.
Food could not make my life good.
And the Sisyphean task of getting up each morning was my subconscious realization that I was trapped in a cycle of futility. I was being compelled to spend great amounts of time and effort to do things that did not profit me.
I was enslaved.
That infuriated me.
This was my motivation.
I hated the idea of something having that kind of power over me.
The next day, I started eating the same kind of Subway sandwich every day to take thinking about what I was going to eat out of the equation.
The next month, I started and completed the P90X program that my wife bought me, twice.
Six months after that, I started going to the gym and have maintained that routine since then – for 15 years now at the time this was written.
But, it wasn’t a straight line. There were periods of relapse because there was flaws in my motivation. And, I have since realized that it’s easy to trade one tyrant for another.
There was a period that I became religious about what I ate and going to the gym. I still struggle with that to some extent, but I have embraced this truth:
Going to the gym and eating healthy cannot fill the hole in my heart.
Going to the gym and eating healthy cannot make my life good.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not profitable.
All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
—1 Corinthians 6:12
There’s a near infinite number of things you can insert in that sentence, “X cannot fill the hole in my heart. X cannot make my life good.” Sex, food, alcohol, money, success, friends, children, church…
But, I have found the One who can fill the hole in my heart. I have found the One who can make my life good.
My experience is that whatever is truly good, is always so -it’s good all the time and for everyone everywhere it is experienced (it’s good even for those who are not the primary participants but are affected by it’s secondhand downstream effects).
Good is alive, life giving, growing, unable to be contained, overflowing the deep expanses of my heart.
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
I have also found that anger is not a sufficient or sustainable source of motivation. Whatever is burning at the heart of that fire, whatever is fueling that anger will be eventually spent.
This is true for a lot of sources of motivation. I once got a full scholarship because I was motivated (pride, stubbornness) by someone telling me I couldn’t. It was sufficient motivation to get me to school but was not enough to get me through school or through the challenges life presented me at the time.
But, “love never fails…”
—1 Corinthians 13:8
My encounter with the love of God expressed in the person of Jesus Christ changed everything. It is changing everything.
I was utterly enslaved, hurting others and being hurt, ignorant of my bondage and without strength to do anything about it.
But since I met Jesus and the Holy Spirit has revealed Him as Lord, I am being set free.
Bit by bit, He’s marching through every corner of my heart, winning territory and tearing down strongholds, the lies, that block the life-giving love of God from shining on and through me.
It’s so good.
My appreciation of His love for me and consequently my love for Him, and you grows every day.
Now my motivation is to make Jesus King.
I am angry about the devastation that I see sin causes and I want people set free from the tyranny of the evil one and the lies of this world.
But above all, I am loved by God, I love Him and I want others to share this wonderful love that I’ve found. Or said more accurately, this wonderful Love that found me.
I want a world where Jesus reigns and He does what He’s doing for me as King.
He alone is worthy to rule.
I am His soldier to this end.
As a soldier, sometimes, when you’re in the trenches and you’ve been there for so long, your motivation can wane, you can forget the mission and lose sight of what you’re there for. I’m peeling potatoes, but I’m not actually peeling potatoes. Whatever job I’m doing is in support of the war effort -a war that ends with Jesus crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords, where there is no rule that rivals His and He returns all things to God that He may be all in all.
This is why I get up every morning. This is what I use everything at my disposal to achieve: my money, my home, my job, my relationships, my marriage, my life.
This is my motivation: to make Jesus King because I love Him. He is excellent and He rules well.
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’
But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.
Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
—1 Corinthians 15:24-28