Recently, in an attempt to get in shape physically, I started running. I know right. Me, running…it is as crazy as it sounds. I have never been much of an athlete or very excited about exercising, so for me to wake up three times a week at 6:30 a.m. make my way outside in the cold to a wet track of grass is certainly a feat for me. Some would even call it a miracle.
So there I am, every other day, pounding the pavement struggling to breathe as I try to make it around the track just one…more…lap. As my lungs are threatening to explode and my calf muscles are on fire, just one…more…lap. Why does something so important and vital to my wellbeing like exercise have to hurt so much? I know there are probably more fun and exciting ways to exercise, but there is always that period at the beginning where it just hurts! You discover muscles you didn’t even know existed. But just one…more…lap. The will to quit and give up becomes so much more appealing then FINALLY fitting into those skinny jeans. But just one…more…lap.
After the near life ending session on that track (seriously I almost died!), I always get the most amazing feeling. I am filled with more energy throughout the day. My sinuses are clearer. My chest is looser, and my waist just seems a little smaller! That torture that I put my body through just may be worth it…a little. Just maybe I will wake up another day and subject myself to that all over again. Just maybe I will say Yes, again.
My struggle with exercise is quite similar to my journey of saying Yes to God’s will. This is certainly a journey. Saying yes to God does not stop with saying yes to His gift of unconditional love and salvation. That ‘yes’ is only the beginning. Laying the foundation to a lifelong declarations of Yes God! But just like my time on the track, saying Yes to God is not always easy. In fact, at times it seems near impossible. Last week I taught about saying a Yes and a No. We must say Yes to God’s will but simultaneously say No! to your will.
But the fact remains, even though you have said Yes to the freedom of God’s will for your life, that does not mean you will miraculously stop having trials and tribulations in your life!
In fact, the enemy will start hitting you even harder to pull you away from God. Why? Well let me put it this way. If you are not living for Christ, and are living for this world you are already doing what Satan wants. So why would Satan waste time trying to tempt you into more sin when you are already right where he wants you?
Now I will say something even more controversial…wait for it.
Be happy when you go through trials!
Yes you read this correctly. When God allows (and He does, He controls everything!). When God allows you to be tested and go through trials it is to directly benefit you! In James 1:2-4 says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Our trials come in order to make us more like Christ. I know that seems very hard to believe but it is true. Jesus suffered more than any of us, so if our desire is to become more like Him then we must go through hard times. You may be thinking, “This is not what I signed up for when I told God yes,” but your yes was to allow God to direct your life. In order for God to do that He has to remove certain things, people, habits, etc. from us in order to make us into the men and women He created us to be.
Consider this: A diamond does not become a diamond without pressure.
Paul also instructs us to find glory in our sufferings, for in Romans 5:3-4 says:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
I may not enjoy the process of exercise but I sure love the results of it! But only one time around the track will not produce the desired results. I must endure the pain and stress and aggravation in order to achieve the rewards.
Our Yes to God is not a one time deal, but a continuous affirmation to do God’s will. Especially if that means allowing God to develop certain characteristics in us like perseverance, character, and hope. Unfortunately it is hard to develop these characteristics with just blue skies, rainbows, and sunny days. Just like I will not be in the desired health just by sitting on the couch all day eating cookies and chips (unfortunately).
Don’t give up on me now! There is some good news about all of this. The trials and storms and hard days are not in vain! Your Yes to God’s will for your life is not wasted! God has amazing plans for your yes! But we must endure. We must persevere. Just one…more…lap. Hebrews 10:36 says:
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
God has given you and me some amazing promises. In fact, the Bible list over a thousand promises from God to us. He wants to bless us beyond our wildest dreams. You said yes to God and He said yes to you! He said yes to enlarging your territories. He said yes to making His grace overflow (2 Corinthians 9:8). He said yes to giving you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). If you give up right when things start to get hard then you will miss out on the life of abundance God longs to give you.
So as you round the corner on this journey, your lungs are burning, muscles may be screaming, and everything in you is pleading for you to stop and give up. To throw in the towel and forget it. This is just too hard! Open your heart to hear your Spiritual coach, the Holy Spirit, whisper: Just one…more…lap!
God Is Mindful