I read recently that there are 46 million people who own gym memberships in the United States, yet less than 20% of them actually go to the gym.  They buy the shoes, the spandex shorts and sweat pants, the work out towel and water bottle.  They carry their gym card around in their wallets, their duffle bag sits in the back seat of the car, and whenever they look in their rear view mirror, they feel pretty good knowing that they belong to a gym.  They proudly tell people, “That’s my gym.”  And while they do not actually go to the gym, they still consider themselves one of those “gym people.”  That thought alone almost feels as good as actually going to the gym.

There are approximately 312,000,000 people in America.  Recent studies indicate that about 78% of those 312m identify themselves as belonging to, or affiliating with, a Christian church.  Nevertheless, it’s estimated that only about 20% of them are actually involved in some regular form of ministry in a church – like Sunday worship, or faith-based service projects, or Bible studies.   Just 20%.

What are the other 80% doing on a Sunday morning?  One thing’s for sure: we know they’re not at they gym.

I was talking to someone at church not long ago.  She said, “Hey, I haven’t see you at the gym lately.”  I said, “Well, that’s curious, because I haven’t seen you in church lately.”

Sometimes, we confuse our best intentions with our actions, because just intending to do something can feel almost as good as actually doing it.  Many of us tend to live “almost” lives, or maybe the truth is, many of us are almost living – stuck between the life we intend to live, and the one we are actually living.

On one occasion, Jesus spoke of the man who had two sons, both of whom he asked to go out into the vineyard and work.  One of the sons, having the best intentions, said, “I’m already on my way, Father, you can count on me,” and yet he never left the couch.  The other son said, “There’s no way I’m going to the vineyard today,” but later had a change of heart and, perhaps even to his own surprise, went to the vineyard.  “Now, which of the two,” asks Jesus, “did the will of his father” (Matthew 21)?

For most of us, it’s not laziness or lack of talent or a lack of opportunity that becomes our greatest force of resistance in life.  That’s not why our “yes” so often turns into a “no.”  Whenever our yes becomes a no, it ‘s most often grounded in our fear of discovering that we might actually be more than we thought we were.

It’s what keeps us from losing the thirty extra pounds.  It’s what keeps us from kicking the habit, or writing the novel, or taking that night class, or running for public office, or pursuing the call, or saying yes to whatever else God may be calling us to do.  It’s easier and safer to simply believe we might be more than we think we are without actually having to put that belief to the test.  “I’ll go to the vineyard.”  But then we never go to the vineyard.

Every day of our lives is a day of decision.  Will I pursue the call of God, will I walk one more step in the direction of a life of significance, will I point myself toward the “vineyard” and start walking?

There is wisdom in that great scene from Alice and Wonderland, where, one day Alice comes to a fork in the road and sees the Cheshire cat in a tree.  “Which road do I take,” she asked?  And the cat says, “Where do you want to go?”  “I don’t know,” Alice replies.  “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter…  If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”


Photo Credit: ohad