Our tag line, or motto if you will, used to be "Life is not about the body, but our health is a means of praise." You may remember that from the old site. It's a little clunky. Somewhat wordy. But despite its lack of rhythm and meter, it's still true. It still holds. Meaning, that any health we have (defined as anywhere between first and last heartbeat) is our chance at worship; our one shot at giving glory to His grace.
But the older I get and the longer I spend in the fitness industry, and especially as PrayFit gets closer to its second mountain, I am growing ever convinced of the complexity of physical stewardship. And perhaps as if I'm looking into a whirlpool of my own history, and of my writing, and shortcomings, and illnesses, and breakdowns and breakthroughs, and sin, and forgiveness and grace, I imagine myself reaching into the mixture of devotions and pulling out that old phrase "means of praise" out of the millions of other words and axioms we've used over the years. Placing it aside, there it is. Means of praise.
Drying it off, so to speak, I take a good look at it. Chin in my hands, I ask it, "What value do you have in my life and in the life of my readers, old and new? After all this time, what do you really mean?"
Pastor Curtis Johnson once said, "Stewardship is a pathway to generosity." Now, of course, he wasn't referring to our physical stewardship, but what a powerful statement. See it again: Stewardship is a pathway to generosity. Examining it from a purely financial sense, it's clear that the management of God's money, His gift to us, is a step to having the opportunity of being generous with our money. In other words, caring for something that's not our own is stewardship, yes, but it doesn't mean we're being generous with it. And I'm finally to the end of the beginning of this long-winded entry.
You and I have been put in charge of something that God made and gave us to take care of temporarily that's not our own, these bodies. Of course, that's not anything new or rare to see on this page. It's not exactly the spotted owl. Because of its familiarity, we glaze over that sentence as if we've just been given the specials menu at our favorite restaurant. But I know in my own life, if the simplest form of bodily stewardship isn’t more than mindful management but in fact incomplete unless generosity is the result, I've missed it.
BRAZIL AND BACK
Last week I got home from a mission’s trip to Brazil. I accompanied the Texas branch of Joni and Friends to help distribute Bibles and wheelchairs. A life-changing trip. I plan to go back. At the tail end of the trip, we had the chance to visit Christ the Redeemer. According to Wikipedia, the Christ the Redeemer statue weighs 635 metric tons and stands 98 ft high. The arms alone stretch 92 ft. Overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer is a symbol of Christianity across the world and has become a cultural icon of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.
Interestingly, as we approached, I noticed what many before me have noted. The statue of Jesus had blind eyes. They were almost…cold.
Mind you, we had just come from a week of seeing kids receiving their first wheelchair and parents their first Bible. We had been eyewitnesses to families being prayed for while their children were held by loving therapists and pastors. We had been looking into the face of Jesus all week. So this, as beautiful and momentous as it was, actually felt a little less like a hospital and more like an amusement park. Nothing against the 7th wonder of the world, it just didn’t feel like a miracle.
ALL OF MY LIFE
As I stood at the base of the statue, so many stories ran through my heart. Cue the piano masterpiece “All of my life” by Bill Conti from the Rocky soundtrack. Seriously, all of my love, all of my hopes, all my work and words, my sentimental foolishness, my heart aches and loss of health and renewed focus on disability, all of it rushed up with me to the top of that mountain in Brazil.
Then looking up as I caught my breath - although the eyes were blind and the stone was cold - I enjoyed the moment very much. And why not? I knew Jesus was in the church back in Curitiba. I knew He was in the heart of Becky Ellis; the leader of the entire outreach. He was in the walk of Marcelo, the mind of Will the mechanic and in the hands of Pastor Melo. And I knew for certain that He was in the faces of the kids back in the disability department at my church. I have seen him in Jordan, Brynn, Jennifer, Emma, Sage and redheaded Matthew.
Driving down the mountain, I wasn’t leaving Jesus, I was going to Him; to my life’s work and calling. Leaning into every turn, I soaked it in. I was descending toward my second mountain.
Guys, this Saturday we launch the new site and reveal our new direction. We will begin by showing a video, sort of a live watch party on Facebook. I hope you’ll be able to join us. I’ll be sure to send you an update and reminder. Please be sure to follow us on all of the social media platforms if you don’t already.
I just want to thank all of you for seeing me to this point. Some of you have been with me for 10 years. Others of you 10 minutes. But welcome to the end of the beginning. The end of mere stewardship and the start of generosity. The tour is over. PrayFit’s first mountain, and mine personally, has been conquered. The 2nd mountain - the one of meaning and purpose and vocation - well, it conquered me.
- jimmy peña