My name is Brad Olson. I am one of several hundred followers who call ourselves the Faith Community United Methodist Church. I am also currently training for the World Powerlifting Championships in South Africa in June.
Powerlifting is my hobby. It is a strength sport where you do a Squat (deep knee bend with weight on your back), a Bench Press (chest exercise), and a Dead Lift (weight starts on the ground and you pick it up to waist height). I do it because, as a short, uncoordinated person it is something I can do to improve my health. I compete because it helps me set goals and meet interesting people. In some competitions people use equipment that helps them lift more, like knee wraps, a canvas singlet, or a really tight bench shirt. I don’t. What I am doing is called Raw Powerlifting.
I compete at a body weight of 145 lbs., in the over 50 age group. Last Fall I did a 375 pound squat, 275 lb. bench press, and 475 lb. dead lift to win the National Championships. I have been invited to go back on the world stage for the first time in 20 years.
Phillips Brooks once said, “Don’t pray for a lighter burden, pray for a stronger back.” In the weight room I take that literally, my burden is an actual weight that I choose to move. But, burdens come in a lot of different forms. What is your burden? Have you taken on the weight of a friend’s problems? Do you have heaviness in your heart for the needs of a child? Do you appreciate the immensity of the struggle of those who are alone?
My natural tendency is to pray for burdens to go away, or at least get lighter. What if we would pray instead for the strength to bear our burdens? Our effort then would be to become more able. Our questions would be: Am I kinder than I was a year ago? Am I more loving? Am I more willing to help?
To strengthen my back, I train regularly. My strategy is to decrease the number of repetitions I do each week and increase the weight so that I will be ready on the day of completion. Are you working things out in your soul? This is the season of Lent. It is a time of preparation for Easter. Will you be ready? Are you exercising your right to read the Bible? Do you have a routine that includes prayer? Would the people who know you describe you as active in your church?
If you are interested in being a part of a team that is training for Easter, I invite you to join us this Sunday. We are just off North Detroit. Our neighbors are Groceryland, Subway, Nicks and McDonalds. Our workouts are at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Through Lent our coach will be a disciple named Peter. He trained through doubt, failure, and denial and took on the burden to offer hope to the World (Acts 2:24).
Brad Olson is the Lead pastor Faith Community UMC, Xenia.