Extreme hobbies

by Christine Berglund

The concept of extreme sports always seemed lost on me. I have known runners who broke bones or ripped tendons. One of them even went on to finish the race in spite of making her injury worse. To me, that sounded like madness.

Why would you hurt yourself just for the accomplishment of one marathon?

In my usual “I know better” mode, I secretly pitied these ladies, and their apparent lack of good judgment. I didn’t share their passion, and so my opinion seemed to be more sensible. Surely I would never be so obsessive about an elective activity, would I?

This week I had the opportunity to see myself in the mirror of my own prejudice. I suffered one of what I now call my “Extreme Gardening” injuries.

I was weeding out a particularly stubborn clump of Garlic Chives which had seeded itself in an inconvenient place, when I felt a snap in my elbow. Immediately there was a burning sensation and an incredible amount of pain radiated over my arm.

Oh, no. I’ve really done it now! After breaking my leg and dislocating my kneecap in another Extreme Gardening incident last summer, I was now aware that puttering around with my beloved plants was not exactly a safe sport.

Cradling the injured arm with my good one, I headed for some ice. Within thirty minutes it no longer felt like my forearm was about to fall off, so I went back outside to pot up those chives for some future random gardener who may need a start.

The next morning the orthopedist let me know that this was not the Tennis Elbow that had plagued me off and on for several years, but rather some real damage. He put me in a very constricting brace for three weeks, until the displaced nerve and the damaged tendons are no longer angry.

That evening was cool and inviting, the birds were singing, and my hand was still free and usable; well, sort of.

Yes, I went back to working in those flower beds again! By nightfall, I realized this might not have been the best decision. The chafing from the edges of the brace and the throbbing pain in my elbow reminded me that althoug the doctor didn’t tell me not to use my arm, it might have been understood with a little common sense.

We all tend to do the things we want to do, regardless of the physical toll it takes on us. The Bible mentions athletic games.

“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25, HCSB).

Is God really concerned with athletic competition? Or is he really saying it for our sake? Yes, this is written for our sake. He understands our interest in athletic accomplishments, or he would not have made the reference. But the lesson is in spiritual matters.

What if we took that same single-mindedness and applied it to our Christian walk? What if we pushed on through the emotional pain and just did what needed to be done?

God expects us to work in his kingdom, and even to be a little bit obsessive-compulsive about it. The passage above was in the context of Paul’s work with the family of God.

Without being extremists, let’s try some “Extreme Christianity” this week!

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