My youngest son, Cai, has developed a passion for working out, so for Christmas he asked for a home gym. More specifically, an Olympic barbell, bumper plate weights, an adjustable bench and a power rack. It was pretty expensive, so he offered to pay for half, and said, “You can use it too, Dad! It would be something we could do together.”
I appreciated his excitement and agreed it would be nice to have something like that around the house. Unfortunately, his plan wasn’t feasible in our current situation. We don’t have a large house and our unfinished basement ceiling is very low.
“I’m sorry, son, we just don’t have room for something like that in our house,” I said.
He quickly agreed, as if expecting me to say that. “I was thinking we could set it up in the garage actually, not the house,” he said.
Unfortunately, our single-car garage is packed wall to wall in winter. I gave up trying to park our vehicle in it years ago. It is strictly used as storage space for our kayaks, gardening tools, lawnmower, snowblower, wheelbarrow, work bench, winter/summer tires, bikes, scooters, patio furniture, hockey equipment and so on. There is no space for anything else, let alone a large home gym.
“I’m sorry, son there’s no room in the garage either.”
“We could make room,” he replied.
At first I resisted. It seemed like an impossible task. We would need six square metres of space to fit the set-up he wanted. I was convinced it couldn’t be done. Yet his persistence and passion wore me down, much like the widow with the unjust judge in Luke 18.
“Come on Dad, we can do it,” he said. “Where there is a will, there is a way. Right?”
I finally agreed to try. The following Saturday afternoon we spent hours moving and rearranging things, until we finally cleared enough space for a home gym. I marvelled at what we had accomplished. It seemed like a Christmas miracle. It’s amazing what some rearranging and a bit of purging can do.
I wondered if this had other applications in my life. Like how I view my time, for instance.
At the beginning of December, I looked at my schedule and the list of things I needed to do, wondering how on earth I would get everything done. I certainly had no room in my schedule for anything else. Then it happened. For the first time since the pandemic began almost three years ago, I got sick.
Over the past few years, I had started to wonder if I had become invincible. For whatever reason, I had become immune to COVID-19 and all other viruses and bacterial infections in my late 40s. This delusion was wonderful to entertain while it lasted, but now, two weeks before Christmas, I was sick. I lost my voice. I ended up taking a week off work. I had to cancel my appointments and meetings. I definitely did not have time for this.
Yet, to my surprise, I did have room in my schedule for this. Everyone and everything got along just fine without me. Everything that needed to get done, got done.
I wondered, is it possible there’s always more room than we think? With some rearranging and a bit of purging, perhaps there is always more space available in our lives than we think there is. More time for God, family, self-care, friends, meditation, prayer, exercise and that unfinished project we keep hoping to get to, when we finally find that ever-elusive window of free time?
Maybe there is no such thing as “free” time. Perhaps there is always a cost, and we have to choose what area of our lives that cost will be taken from. Maybe the cost of our full schedules, governed by our addictions, attachments and assumptions, is our mental health, physical health, spiritual health or the health of our relationships with family, friends and God.
This week I’ve been wondering, how do I go about rearranging and purging my life, the way my son and I rearranged and purged our garage? How do I tap into the abundance of time and space in my life that the abundant life of Jesus promises? I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m now confident that, where there is a will, there is a way.
Troy Watson is a pastor of Avon Mennonite Church in Stratford, Ont.