While listening to a message preached on religious television, I was inspired to share on the topic of being “In Training.” Many individuals are in training, because they want to get healthy. Perhaps they have put on a few pounds in not very flattering areas, or they just want to build muscle in various areas of their bodies. Both are good reasons to develop a training regiment, for sure! One of my nephews is attempting to eat healthier, in hopes of losing a few pounds. He’s at that age where youngsters become more focused on their appearance. However, after just a few days in, his sentiments were, “it’s not easy.” Many who decide to begin this journey, want instant gratification. They want results, without putting in the hard work and effort necessary to get positive results. However, once they become invested, there is a paradigm shift in their thinking. They realize things aren’t going to happen overnight. They realize it isn’t going to be easy, nor is it going to be fun all of the time. They experience an epiphany, that it’s going to take developing a plan with both short-term and long-term goals, a lot of discipline, self denial, self sacrifice, and enduring much pain and hard work; such as altering their diets, jogging, weightlifting, bicycling, joining a gym, etc. After putting in the hard work, trainees realize it was worth all the hard work put in, in order to achieve their goals. How does this relate to our Christian journeys? Let’s take a look at a few Scriptures.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord shall deliver us out of them all. (Psalm 34:19) Yea, and all who shall live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (II Timothy 3:12) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:12-13) And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (I Corinthians 9:25) I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
I heard Donnie McClurkin say, “We never arrive.” While on our Christian journeys, there is always a higher height and a deeper depth in the Lord to experience. As with bench pressing, a trainee starts with lifting a few pounds. Then, when they have built muscle to the point there is no longer resistance, it’s time to increase the weight of the barbells. As we go higher and higher in the Lord, and from glory to glory, the tests and trials become more difficult. There will be times when the godly will suffer persecution. We are to continue to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. “I press toward the mark – As he who was running a race did. The “mark” means properly the object set up at a distance at which one looks or aims, and hence the goal, or post which was set up at the end of a race-course, and which was to be reached in order that the prize might be won. Here it means that which is at the end of the Christian race – in heaven.” As with bench pressing, it’s a two-person team, the weightlifter and the spotter. When the weights become too heavy for the lifter, the spotter will step in, and give assistance. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you, as you go higher in Him. He will put no more on you than you can bear. When a trainee reaches their ultimate goal, there is a sense of accomplishment. It is realized, that all of the effort, the hard work, and the denying of oneself, was worth it all. We too must take up our crosses daily, and continue to follow the Lord. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know Him. The Word of God also says, for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. For our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Continue to press on the upward way, that you may receive the ultimate prize, eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! May the Lord bless you abundantly, today and every day!