The Comfort of Atrophy
Atrophy: The gradual decline in muscle; to waste away. I first learned of the word back in college while sitting around the lunch table with my fellow lifting buddies. A novice weightlifter, I was growing like a weed. I remember thinking - wait no - I remember knowing that the work and food I was putting to use in one week would be seen the next. It was just a natural mindset, and as it turns out, it was the only way to train, to think, to grow. I did nothing short of declare war with my humanity. Four years later, 18-inch arms and squatting small homes were testaments to that truth. But then...
Not sure when it began exactly, but over the years and through the heartache of illness I began to lose what I worked so hard for; a thought that would have crushed my younger self. If you train, you feel me. You know what I'm talking about. But the body has some amazing ways of pointing us to eternity. Atrophy is one of them. And what a comfort atrophy has become. Indeed, if atrophy had its own verse, it just may be 1 Timothy 4:8, "For physical training is of some value, but training in godliness has value now and in the life to come." Yes sir, if there's a bodily trait that should remind us to be thankful for grace, it's atrophy, especially if you consider the amount of work it takes to gain muscle and how quickly it disappears if left untrained for whatever reason.
Thankfully - unlike our frail flesh - grace requires no work on our part, no diligence, no steadfast effort. Does it induce those things in our lives? Yes, but are they necessary to sustain it? No. And as I navigate my health and push hard against the naturally occurring decline, I'm simultaneously reminded of, and comforted by God's age-defiant, atrophy resistant, eternally resilient grace. Dear friends, the longer I serve Him (and the smaller I get) the sweeter He grows. -Jimmy Peña
For Discussion: Friends, we're vapors. We're quickly fading flowers. But isn't it something that the last muscle to go, the heart - where grace makes its home - also goes through atrophy? And when it can no longer sustain us or maintain us, it stops contracting. But grace will have only just begun. Have you declared war against your humanity? We're with you. That's why we're here to help you with the tools of training and food to help you navigate the battle. But here's a question: Pride wants to convince you otherwise, but who here is encouraged by atrophy?