“Damn dude. You look great.”
The locker room was small, cramped - with that beautiful smell of man sweat, protein powder, and questionable bathroom stalls - so it wasn’t hard to hear the compliment aimed in my direction. It came from my old personal trainer, a younger dude who looked like he ate 19 year-olds like me for his mid-afternoon protein boost. I mean, he was only my personal trainer for three short (not to mention free) sessions because I was too cheap to pay him (aaaand paying for weed was more important at the time).
That didn’t mean I was too cheap to actually go to the gym, though. I went in the afternoons, between being in college full-time and working a full-time warehouse job. They were long days, but when you have a greater purpose in life you can achieve anything your heart desires. And my purpose was this:
To get ripped and have any girl I wanted.
What can I say - I liked to dream big back then.
It was after six months of daily work-outs, giving it my all, that I found myself in that locker room with my “trainer” next to me. As I was getting changed, he looked over with a stunned expression and dished out that comment about my appearance.
I got a little red in the face, but hoped my excitement was hidden by my cool-guy facade. Another work-out guru I admired was also in the locker room and affirmed what the trainer said. We engaged in some small talk and then they both left the locker room ready to smash some bars. As they walked out, I went over to the mirror to admire the results I had worked so hard for.
As I looked in the mirror, I felt empty.
“What the hell,” I thought, “Isn’t this exactly what I wanted? You, ripped pecs, should complete me! Why am I not happy??”
If this isn’t enough to make me happy, what’s the point? Is there a greater purpose to life?
Those questions I asked myself in that locker room started me down the road to find the deep answer to what my purpose was. One of the things it led me to?
The creation story.
As in, the one in the Bible.
As in, what was I getting myself into!?
You see, this story was a bit intimidating to me. The creation story of the Bible was like a wrestling pit for most people, a throw down cage-match style. I didn’t want to jump in the ring for fear of getting a stone cold stunner to the head.
Growing up, someone told me the creation story was completely literal. It was written to explain exactly how the world was created, word for word, saying things like all the dinosaurs were killed in that big flood Noah had to deal with.
Really? What happened to all the animals entering the ark two by two? It must have been the early biblical rapture and all the dinosaurs were left behind. Those sinners.
Others, like my science teacher, told me that evolution was the real answer. To them, the creation story was like a children’s story; once you realize Santa isn’t real, it’s time to move from the Bible to science.
What’s a Channing Tatum wannabe to believe? If it isn’t about the sinful dinosaurs or the survival of the fittest, what’s it about?
Turns out, the creation story is like God’s audition for a poetry slam. It’s written more like a poem and less like a biology or history book, using poetic language to convey a deep truth.
"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light."
In Genesis 1 we hear all about the first six days of creation. In the first three days God sets the stage like Christopher Nolan would:
The First Day: Light and Darkness
The Second Day: Sky and the Sea
The Third Day: Land and Vegetation
With the next three days He brings in the actors:
The Fourth Day: The Sun and the Moon
The Fifth Day: The Birds and the Great Sea Monsters
The Sixth Day: Animals and Man
This doesn’t seem like the correct chronological order, Genesis.
Doesn’t vegetation need the sun for photosynthesis? Did God create cucumbers before the sun? What’s God getting at?
At some point I was taught that the story is saying God made the world for man, the last on the list of things created. Day Six: Man.
Now, I always wondered why the number six was the unholy number. Does God have an irrational phobia of six or something?
The number actually represents us reading this story and stopping on the day man was created. It poetically symbolizes man thinking the world was made only for him and his selfish conquests. Almost like a dude who thinks he was placed on earth to get some nice abdominal muscles…
The story of creation goes on in Genesis 2, and what is last in this story is the dramatic ending everything leads up to:
The Seventh Day: God Rests.
God didn’t rest because he needed a deep tissue massage after creating, ya know, everything out of nothing; rest is actually a poetic biblical clue into the meaning of life.
The story of creation is to show how the world is meant to be a stage for the two main players: God and man. It’s about how God wants us to rest in Him; not to be anxious, or fearful, or alone.
God wants us to be co-creators of our lives with Him, able to approach every day with a deep sense of purpose. But our desire for that purpose (and the happiness that comes with it) is only satisfied when we allow our hearts and desires to rest in God. Not in getting a hot body or all the ladies, no - those things are so shallow compared to the greatness God knows we have within us.
That seventh day of rest in the creation story? That’s God telling us that in order to find purpose, we need to find Him first.
I still work out now, but with a different reason behind it. Down with frat boy dreams. Hello, God.
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”