As athletes, you know the feeling; hands on your knees, trying to catch your breath after a grueling set of wind sprints. (Or for example, me, pictured here exhausted during one of my last days in the gym back in 2007.) You try and stand tall, putting your hands on your head, desperately gasping for air. Before you know it, coach blows the whistle for the team to get back on the line to do it all over again. In exercise physiology there are all sorts of wonderful phenomena going on inside your body immediately following an intense bout of exercise.
One of the more traditional terms tossed around, and one that was hammered into my head during graduate school, was the term "oxygen debt." And for the sake of the conversation, you can think of oxygen debt as recovery time, or the amount of oxygen required during recovery to get your body back to a steady, normal state. The thing of it is, while it's called "oxygen debt," it's not something you can actually pay back.
Rev. Scotty Smith says, "Breathe in God's grace like you breath in air. It's just as vital, actually, more so." Reading that makes me think back to those old days of training. If you're a swimmer, maybe the gasp just above the water is a better picture. Either way, air is vital for our survival. But even more so is the grace that God offers us through Jesus. And the sin debt He paid in full on the cross of Calvary is a debt we can't repay. Good works -- when performed to try and keep us in good standing -- will only leave us gasping; think of a fish out of water. That's us without grace.
So as you hit your training today - whether you're a walker, runner, yogi or lifter - Grace allows us to breathe easy while we work. Because no matter your success or failure at whatever mode of exercise you choose, God can't love you any more or any less than He does right now. So don't try and repay Him. Simply accept His grace, take a deep breath and sigh.
- Jimmy Peña