What is hard? What do you find difficult? What just tires you out, but you stick through it because you know the outcome will be enjoyable or worth it? Even when you don't see the outcome, or can't see past the next few minutes, do you keep going? Now obviously, you can say it depends on the situation. So here's one situation. You could be going on a jog and you have a really bad blister on your ankle, and you know that it is just going to get worse. After a while of jogging through a little pain, it just gets worse, and worse. You realize after it grows to tremendous pain that the negatives are going to totally out-weigh the positives, and "you know what?.. It’s just not worth it." Now obviously, that's probably the smart, logical choice. Why would you keep on doing something if the negatives are going to supersede the positives? Well, quite frankly, most likely you wouldn't.
Now let’s say that blister doesn't get worse, and it only hurts just a little bit, buuuut it still hurts. You keep jogging for a bit, and start to get a little annoyed. But you think twice and remember how much you love jogging. "Besides, after a while of doing this, I can get in such great shape!" It seems though that right after you think that thought, that blister just seems to slide back into our mind and remind us that it is still there and it hurts. After a while, it seems like it is getting worse and it is definitely getting more annoying. You know in the back of your mind that the blister really can't get worse and do much more damage, but it just getting harder and harder. Finally after a while of dwelling on it, you stop your pace and just start walking thinking you can just "walk it off." After a short while a walking, you start back up your pace of jogging. Feeling good, you jog even a little faster and you "feel" like you're making great progress. But once again, that stupid little blister just starts eating at the back of your mind! A short while later, you start walking again. This cycle just keeping happening over and over again. Discouragement just creeps its ways over you. You don't know what to do.
This sound familiar? Obviously you may not be able to relate to the whole jogging thing, but maybe the analogy? This is so often the description of the Christian life. I know I often find myself in this position. The idea of walking with God, doing His work, and all of a sudden a few trials come along the way. You seem to "get over" them after a while, and it just feels like you're walking great with God again. But that cycle keeps coming around, and you just get discouraged. So, why does this happen? It happens because we don't REALLY realize the benefits of the Christian life.
Matthew 16:24-26 - "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
If anyone REALLY wants God, let him DENY himself and TAKE UP his cross AND follow Him. Trials will come, and those who persevere and don't "start walking" will experience the Lord more than anything. The fact is, we should desire God more than we desire ourselves.
Deut. 6:5 - "Thou shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength."
There won't be any room left for you if you are loving God more than anything. God will consume the contents of your heart that you won't want to stop when you're out jogging. Little annoyances will be a piece of cake to overcome.
Ephesians 6:17b - "And take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
This is our only offensive weapon listed in the Armor of God. The Bible, God's Word IS what we need and can use every single day to fight off those little "blisters" in our life. Reading God's Word is a huge way to get to know and love God more.
John 1:1 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God.
...Reading God's Word and staying in It or Him is imperative to grow in our walk with Christ and keep up the good pace. Another aspect of loving God with all of your heart is prayer. Jesus Christ is our heavenly Father. I heard someone say once, "When you get up every day, why would you just not talk to your dad? And that is just your earthly dad! WHY would you get up every day and just not talk or communicate with Him?" He should be everything! People don't realize the sovereignty of our Lord and Savior, and it's sad.
John 1:2 - "All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made"
... basically saying, without God, we would and basically are, nothing. BUT, Christ came to this earth to die to save us "nothing people" because He loved us with a love that is Indescribable. That right there is the biggest reason in the world to love and serve God! Why wouldn't you is what I ask?
So ultimately, if we actually realize who God is and what He has done, is doing and will do for eternity!... that little "blister" won't be a problem anymore.
Philippians 1:21 - "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Amen! How reassuring is it that if we are living in Christ and He has Justified us from eternal damnation, and sanctifies us every? All the more reason to keep loving Christ and showing it! When those little annoyances or even huge trials come along, we can know that we have the victory in Jesus. Stephen in the New Testament got it. He was stoned to death because of his Faith in Christ, but you know what? He gained EVERYTHING when he died that day. He is now living in heaven with his Father and Lord because he stood up for Christ. Either dead or alive, we have won the ultimate battle. How awesome is that?!
So, sorry about the super long post here, but this is something that is very dear to my heart and I kinda just wanted to share some of it. :) It's great to know that we can look forward and know that anything we may go through is totally worth it for Christ. Keep on jogging!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 -”Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."