God's word in today's world

Right hand on hand in 2015

Philippians 4:13

2015 is here! May it be a wonderful year for you and your loved ones. May God surprise you every day, everywhere. May you recognize en enjoy his love, grace and protection.

In the rush towards the end of 2014, many of you missed the last Crossroad. It was a tongue-in-cheek tell-all about going to gym, but the message is powerful. Here it is again:

When I stepped onto the treadmill I saw the on-the-go gym instructor going at a good pace next to me. I could see she had been running for quite some time already. I greeted her politely, as my mom had taught me. I was surprised that she could talk so easily while running that hard, but she responded politely, mentioning in passing that she was training for a marathon. I was surprised on account of the speed at which she was going, because to me it seemed as if she was practising sprints for the 100 metres.

I let her get on with her running and started my own ritual. No, no stretching, because I’m too self-conscious to do that. You look as if you’re pushing something, but getting nowhere. No, my ritual is to hang my gym towel on the treadmill’s handlebar, choose the right music on my phone and position my earphones right in the middle of my ears. This usually takes some time, but then I’m ready. As usual I set the speed at 7.5 km/h. Just fast enough to have a sheen of sweat on the upper lip after 20 minutes and slow
enough to keep me from falling off.

After a minute I saw Right Hand moving slowly towards the speed button. I almost asked out loud, what are you doing? But he simply tapped the speed button upwards and the speed picked up more or less 0.1 km/h faster.

“Gmph”, I thought, “it’s because he wants to impress the gym instructor running next to me.”

But I let it go, because I’m a man and I’m not afraid, but when I saw Right Hand slipping forward again to tap the speed button, it slipped out loud: No, are you mad? We’re gonna fall off!

I suspect my fellow gym-goers were quite confused by this.

Now I was walking like a jack russel on steroids. What would this old body look like crashing down on the wooden floor?

I started wondering why people were looking at me strangely. Was it because I was talking out loud to myself or because of the strange noise coming from the poor treadmill?

I glanced to my right to see whether the girl had heard me, but it didn’t seem like it, although the smile on her face might have meant that she had heard me. But while I was looking around to see whether anybody was looking at me, Right Hand did something terrible. No, I didn’t see it, simply felt the earth beneath start moving considerably faster. Struggling to remain upright, my eyes glanced at the display: 8.0km/h!

I wanted to shout at Right Hand, but fortunately realised I had my earphones on. I didn’t know how loud I was talking and muttered sort of to the side, because I couldn’t mumble behind my hand – I needed both hands to hang onto the handlebar for dear life.

I tried to catch Right Hand’s eye to sort of point with my chin towards the speed button, getting no reaction from him.

My heart was beating wildly, I could hear Heart was losing rhythm. The pistons were struggling noisily. Right Hand grabbed the cell phone pushing up the sound. He even pushed the earphones still further into my ears.

Fortunately, it was good 80s music. Even better, the tempo was quite fast and I could concentrate on dumping one foot in front of the other on the rolling band to the beat of the music.

I realised something was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what.

I started praying, concentrating very hard not to do it out loud, praying with my eyes open.

My eyes went to the screen where 30 guys were fighting about one ball. But I couldn’t concentrate. I was fighting myself – with Right Hand, with my legs to keep going fast enough. Everything was on the edge, as the English would say. I could see the aunties laughing their heads off if I fell off the treadmill.

Then I realised what was missing. My breath! My breath was gone! I gasped and panted and pumped until my stomach was a vacuum, struggling, man. Breath, Breath, where are you? In my mind’s eye I could see someone running up to me with an oxygen cylinder and softly pushing the mask over my face before my eyes softly close without a sound.

Bang! A pain spread from the right side of my tummy. My appendix was done for! He had not been feeling well recently.

Breath! Where is Breath?

“No”, said Right Hand, “It’s not Appendix that’s complaining, it’s Gut. He’s tired of being fat and processing everything that’s going down my throat. It’s Spleen that’s in pain”, he said. After a while, seeing how I was struggling, Right Hand at least put out his hand lovingly catching hold of poor Spleen.

My eye caught the clock. Could you believe it, 13 minutes have gone by. In my army days, nearly 30 years ago, was the last time I had run for so long at any one time. But not after that.

I caught myself starting to believe I could make it to the finish in 20 minutes, but I was still looking for Breath.

But in the third-last or last minute all hell broke loose. You see, the load was just too heavy for the chassis. Everything was overloaded. The first to go was Knee. I suspect the kneecap shifted. Or it could have broken into a million pieces, so bad was the pain.

I shouted at Right Hand to push the emergency button, but he was deaf to my pleas. I shouted at Left Hand to rescue me, but before he could get to the button, Right Hand grabbed him.

“No”, he shouted. “Don’t! He’ll get there. Watch him!”

In the last minute I was certain the piston in one of Heart’s ventricles was going to seize, but o, the joy and thankfulness when the band underneath my struggling feet started to slow down.

I could no longer see the time, because sweat was streaming over everything.

I never walk the cool-down minute. Had never needed to. But then I did, because Breath was still missing.

I gave long, long steps, pretending I was stretching my legs. I saw the people who knew what they were doing usually did that.

When the band eventually came to a stop, I took longer than normal to get off. Slowly I picked up my towel and for the first time in my gym life I used it for the right purpose: I wiped off the sweat. Out of decency I also wiped the sweat from the treadmill. Soon the towel was so wet that I was just wiping the sweat from one place to another. It looked as if the machine had been outside during one of the Cape’s worst winters.

And I was still looking for Breath.

I had to get down. I glanced around me, but no one was specifically looking at me. Deliberately I walked past the instructor and said: “Thanks for giving us a bit of energy.”

She smiled and said it was nice to do it. I could see she was nearing the end of her marathon as she switched the machine to a faster setting…

I normally cycle for 20 minutes and throw a couple of weights around, but for understandable reasons these activities have been suspended until further notice.

I kept looking for Breath and decided to look in the steam room. And while I was sitting there in the heat with another litre or two pouring from me, I realised one thing: This morning Right Hand had brought a piece of potential inside me to the surface. Yes, I had been walking in the gym for the past year and a half, but my head never thought I had the potential to run.

And in a way I started feeling good. And then Right Hand saw Breath and lightly pointed at Chest. Quietly Chest was moving up and down.

“Well”, I said out loud to myself as I was sitting there, “Breath, good to see you back. You should have seen what we’ve been through these past 20 minutes.”

And sitting there with a big smile on my face I was reminded of a piece of Scripture: Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am (Fil. 4:13). If Right Hand hadn’t persuaded my head, I would never have realised what potential I had inside me.

You have a lot of potential inside you to do much more than what you are doing right now. Maybe you’re dreaming about a better job or promotion; maybe you want to do more for others, but you don’t know if you have the potential. Maybe you’re feeling overcome by your circumstances; maybe your marriage is broken and you’ve given up already. Maybe life is simply too much and you may have wondered whether it wouldn’t be better to take an early departure.

Maybe it’s time for a Kit Kat and to take a break and reconsider everything.

Right Hand wants to help you so much. Right Hand wants to help you realise that potential that you may not even be aware of. Believe in yourself. Believe that God will help you to achieve your full potential, because you can make it through anything with God’s Spirit inside you.

With my breath back I went for a cold shower very satisfied. I wonder about getting up the next morning and where I would discover new aches and pains. But I smiled, because I knew Right Hand was there for me!

May you experience God as your right hand, close to you throughout 2015.


What is your dream?

What is your potential?

Do you believe that God gives you power?


Holy Spirit, thank you for being my Right Hand and always being close to me. I believe with my whole heart that You will also keep close to me in 2015. Please help me reach my potential, so that your Name may be glorified. Amen

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