I was holding a high plank, staring at the black, cork floor as my sweat made a shiny puddle under my nose. My arms were shaking.
“C’mon, Katie,” the instructor knelt in front of me. “You’ve got this.”
I had just fatigued my shoulders doing renegade rows and double kettle bell push presses, and now, after completing a pushup, I was supposed to walk my hands backwards until I stood bent over my own feet, then walk my hands back out into a high plank and do another pushup. Over and over again. This was only the fifth one in the first set, and I was already about to fall flat on my face. There was no way I could do three sets.
“You can do this.”
I felt a familiar panic overcome me, a desperation of spirit that comes with the Law, with the knowledge of the limits of my own, fallen, diseased flesh. I had felt it before. I had felt it as my doctor filled out a request for diagnostic mammograms four years ago; as my menses started a week late when I was sure I was pregnant; as I rocked back and forth on the floor during a pain episode related to endometriosis; as I put on the hospital gown before my surgery; as I leaned dizzily against the gym wall while I was on Lupron.
My flesh always fails.
The puddle under my nose went blurry as hot tears mixed with my sweat. I gave in to my panic and leaned back on my heels, too embarrassed to look the instructor in the eye. My face was already red and shiny from my workout, so it took a second for her to see the tears.
She leaned back on her own heels. “What’s going on?”
“I just feel so weak.”
I don’t remember what she said in response. I know she was encouraging, and I am sure whatever she said was true. It’s just that there was so much I wasn’t telling her. The pain of endometriosis. The fear of it coming back. Every day of my childless life being a reminder of my failing flesh.
My tears weren’t really about a few measly pushups. My tears were about the grief of this creation groaning in response to sin. My sin. And it overwhelms me sometimes.
In those moments, there is only one thing to do: turn in faith to Him who has mercy on sinners.
“Christ, save me. Christ, forgive me. Christ, come quickly.”
Then, wait in hope for the LORD to deliver me from my failing flesh on the Last Day.
And, while I’m waiting, I might as well try to do another pushup.