by Kirk Spencer
At my gym, there is a long racks of dumbbells; all sizes of dumbbells, from tiny ones, that barely fit into your hand at one end to Godzilla size at the other end. One day, when no one was around, I went to the “Godzilla” end of the rack and grabbed the largest dumbbell in the room (the largest dumbbell I had ever seen). It was almost as long as my arm! I grabbed the grip and then glanced around to make sure the room was still empty; then I tried to lift it out of the rack. There was absolutely no motion—no movement—no nothing. I was the only thing moving. So I glance around again, laying hands (both hands) upon the dumbbell, took a deep breath and strained with all my might. It moved, just a bit, out of its place on the rack; but it was obvious that this was a dangerous amount of weight. So, with much effort, I pushed the dumbbell back into place. I was in a full sweat and totally exhausted, so I headed for the showers saying to myself, “Certainly the Godzilla dumbbells were just for show. No one would ever actually use them.”
Just a few days later, I noticed that those very dumbbells I had attempted to lift were missing from the rack. “Good,” I thought, “They got rid of them… someone was going to get hurt trying to lift them.” But they were not gone. They were on the floor near one of the padded black benches. So I stopped and waited. I had to see this. Over in the corner was a man in his mid-twenties. He was pacing back and forth occasionally looking over his, very broad, shoulder toward the dumbbells. After several minutes he walked over to the bench. I could see him better now. He was of average height and his upper body was muscular, but not overly so. He sat down on the end of the bench reached down and grabbed one of the dumbbells in each hand. Then he leaned his whole body forward where his chest was near the floor and pulled upward with arms, shoulders and chest, all at once… and the dumbbells rose effortlessly from the floor up into the air next to his chest and he rested them vertically on his thighs (“ouch!”). He took several deep breaths, then once again, leaned his chest forward, next to the dumbbells, and then leaned backward; and, after a few deep breaths, he slowly pushed with all his might and the dumbbells rose up above him into the air, then down again and then back up. He did this six times, then he did exactly what he had done before only in reverse. I was amazed. So I guess the Godzilla dumbbells were not just for show.
However as I was working out that day, looking at all the exercisers, I thought maybe it’s not the dumbbells on the rack that are “just for show” but the activity. I wondered how often such healthy (but still dying) bodies were actually used for real productive work? (I often imagine how much electricity we could generate if we could connect all the gyms in the world to generators.) Though the muscles were admirable and the largeness did have a kind of attraction. The alpha males I often see lifting weights, reminded me of alpha dogs.
I’m the alpha dog in my house… at least my dog thinks so. He greets me every time I come home with a hopping, tail-wagging excitement. He will even do this if I go outside for a few seconds. He will greet me just as if I had returned from a long journey (As a matter of fact this dog will greet me, even if it is someone else that has come home). In school, I learned that this is not because my dog is my best friend; rather, it has been programed into his genes by many millennia of pack-animal behavior. To their canine mind, the largest dog in the pack is the alpha dog and all the other dogs, all the way down to the omega dog, are programed to show obeisance to the alpha dog. I have often pondered whether this is only a dog-thing.
I once found myself standing in a line of important people. Not sure what I was doing there, but there I was. In front of me were well known folks, each a revered “alpha dog” in his own right. At the front of the room, was one of the well-known who had just prayed one of those name-dropping prayers. As we filed past him, his glad hand reached out to shake the hands of each of his fellow “alpha dogs.” Then there was me—not an alpha dog (except in my own house). It was a curious moment. Here’s what happened… our eyes met. Across his face flashed a look of “who are you,” followed by a slight sign of embarrassment. Then, just as fast, he turned away, and as he did, he reached back as he walked away with a quick dead-fish handshake. It was awkward. I guess I was not one of the heavy lifters.
The Alpha and Omega God
It does make me wonder how a carpenter from a small village in a small country who never walked more than 75 miles from His birthplace could have impacted the world for two millennia… without media… without technology… even without other alpha dogs. He did a lot of heavy lifting in his life, but not just for show. I once thought that His childhood, adolescence, and early adult years were wasted in training, but then I read about a chair in Egypt and a boat from Galilee; both from the time of Christ and both repaired over and over and over again. Our culture is a culture of show. It is throw-away culture. In the past they repaired their stuff over and over again. This means that, as a carpenter (τέκτων), Jesus probably spent the vast majority of his life repairing stuff. He was the ultimate repair man. And His sacrifice on the cross for us was the most productive of all sacrifices. Once and for all, it was the greatest of all heavy lifting—the greatest repair. You can write this down and take it to the bank: “Jesus Christ is making all things new.” He was the ultimate alpha, Who became the omega. For us. So that we might escape Death and become the children of God. And we are dumb-bells to ignore so great a salvation.