The Friday Thought - God’s call isn’t a ten week programme

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As November passes its midpoint and as we brace ourselves for the onset of winter we have to contend with dealing with the unpredictable which is known as the future.

Last year many of us rushed out and bought clothing and boots as we tried to anticipate another severe winter.

The common expectation was another season of sharp cold days, freezing temperatures and the inevitability of the standstill which would be caused by weeks of snow.

Like the good summer we have been promised for the last fifteen years the arctic winter never materialised although we’re usually on safer ground when expecting the worse and predicting disaster.

I don’t want to be tempting providence or fate this year but for the sake of my current fitness regime which has been provoked by the weight loss programme ‘The Biggest Loser’ I’m hoping the weather remains reasonable. I know only too well it wouldn’t take much encouragement to sit in the house.

We’re now in our seventh week of training and general attempts at healthier living. Unfortunately I’ve had to reassess my ambitions.

Four years ago I managed to lose over two stone when motivated by competing against a Tyrone man. Sadly I lost and as I freely admit the bigger man won.

There is nothing like bringing out the competitive spirit to help motivate people.

In the Waterside’s Biggest Loser (even though I’m a blow in, described as a plump looking bone picker) there is an individual and a team prize. Currently the leader has lost over 25lbs, an amazing achievement. I lost 20 pounds out of my pocket but it doesn’t count.

Let’s just say I’m lagging some way behind. I’ve been to the gym regularly and rather than bypass the gym floor and head to the hot tub and the steam room I actually went through the pain of exercising. I have even been running the roads in recent weeks, all wrapped up I looked like a smaller and slower moving Fr Canny.

Twice a week I have put myself through the endurance and hell of the two group exercise sessions in Chapel Road Primary School’s Assembly hall. Every week our instructors, or trainers or inflictors of severe pain and cruelty, introduce the gathered 40 women and five men to new forms of agony.

The worst isn’t all the stretching, lunges, press-ups; sit-ups, knees to the chest, sprints not to mention high tempo exercises such as circuit training and boxercise, it’s the aerobics. For someone who discovered through events such as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Jigs and Reels’ that I have absolutely no sense of co-ordination, rhythm or timing, the aerobics was a bridge too far.

Normally I hide in the furthest corner at the back of the hall to try and save my embarrassment. The only problem being boxed into the corner is getting punched or kicked by a trailing limp from my one time 20st friend, although in fairness he is now down to 19st.

The first minute of the aerobics is fine when you’re only asked to move your legs from side to side. This lulls you into a false sense of security because just as you get the hang of moving your legs from side to side you’re ordered to swing your arms forward and back. At this stage I’m struggling like a spider in a slippery wet bath as I cry out in anguish and frustration, usually moving in the opposite direction as everyone else and at the wrong time for good measure.

After five minutes of proving I’m legless, footless and armless we thankfully move on to something else. Sadly there are only three weeks left in the programme and already there are whispers about the new year’s, will there be a bigger ‘Biggest Loser’ to help us to recover from Christmas? Over ten weeks it’s easier to embrace a change of regime and lifestyle but once the group event ends in a few weeks time it will be more difficult to stay motivated. The danger exists of falling back into the same routine, the same old habits.

As we approach the end of the Church Year the Christian community is asked to reflect on the end times. This weekend’s gospel from St Mark paints a picture of the cosmic battle between good and evil, light and darkness. How we live our lives in response to Jesus’ call to discipleship and the reality of God’s kingdom determines which side of the conflict we wish to belong.

Jesus came into the world to lead men and women back to God, to worship the Father in Spirit and Truth. The decision we make for or against believing in God’s Son is reflected in what we are witness to in our lives. God is constantly calling and we’re challenged to look for the signs of his Kingdom. As Christians we have to live out our baptismal call to build God’s kingdom here and now. This isn’t a ten week programme, or something we can leave until the end of our lives. Today is the day, every day; every week, month, season and year. God is calling us to respond to his love in word and deed.