The Moment of Truth
Athletes train for years to prepare for a race. Then, in a matter of seconds, it’s all over, with those many years of preparation condensed to a single moment of truth. If an athlete is victorious, they have proven to self and spectators, the years of effort have not been wasted.
The life of Christianity is similar to the life of an athlete. There will be years of training, setbacks and heartaches. If we persevere, God will arrange a demonstration of our spiritual strength in one of life’s many events. It will be our moment of truth – our turn to face Goliath.
Often, the time we have to show the world the ‘glory of God’ is over in a heartbeat. It could simply be a small window of opportunity – to say or do the right thing at the exact moment when it is most needed. Usually, these situations pop up unexpected and unannounced. How we handle these opportunities depends on our mindset preparedness.
However, we can relax; God knows when we are spiritually strong enough to be victorious. We will not be tested beyond our ability. At that time, He will bring the right spectators to watch our moment of truth so they can witness that our years of faith in Him have been well justified. (Psalms 1:3)
Then, like the Apostle Paul, we can say: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7.
Passing the Baton
A baton is a short rod, a staff of office or a symbol of rank. A relay race is a team event where consecutive runners pass the baton to the next team-mate on completion of their stage of the race.
As Christians we have a race set before us. This race is a team event which started with our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ completed His stage of the race, He passed the baton (Message of Salvation) to His disciples, telling them to go out and evangelise, (John 17:18).
Since then, many generations have taken the Gospel-baton and sprinted for God’s glory, passing it on from Christian to Christian. Now, after two thousand years, the baton has been passed to us.
Life is our stage of the race and we have an amazing opportunity to fulfil God’s purpose for our life. The Gospel-baton is now in our hands we must be careful not to be distracted and drop it.
Like all true Christian athletes, we should concentrate on one objective – to run for the glory of God. But we can relax; whether we succeed or fail in our leg of the race, the baton will eventually be passed to the next generation of Christians. We need not worry about the race outcome. By reading our Bible we learn that the Christians win.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Hard to Exercise
It is easy to exercise when full of strength and bursting with energy. What is hard is continuing our exercise routine on days when feeling low and lethargic. Top athletes discipline themselves to train on good days and bad days. To succeed in sporting endeavours one cannot be a fair-weather athlete.
It’s easy to be thankful and praise God when our lives are prosperous and full of blessings, but can we continue to praise God when things go bad? Thankfulness in adversity is the true mark of a mature Christian. To praise God in a crisis shows that one is focused on God and His eternal plan – not on present difficulties.
God has made provision for us in ALL circumstances. He has also promised, to those who are focused on Him, not to test them beyond their capabilities (1Cor 10:13). Our afflictions have purpose. It may be to make us stronger in Christ – a time to build spiritual muscle. Or maybe our adversity is designed to be a future witness to others. Christ’s suffering did not benefit him – he endured it purely to benefit us.
Usually, God’s purpose for allowing adversity into our lives is a mystery – it is very hard to exercise ‘praise’ in those circumstances. But if we ever hope to be strong Christians we must discipline ourselves to take eyes off self and set them firmly on God’s eternal goal. When we trust and abide in Him we will find God gives us the energy to go on. Strength will soon follow so we can run the race He has set before us. As a result we will be ‘sincerely’ thankful to Him in all circumstances.
We must constantly remind ourselves, the adversity before us is never as great as the Power behind us. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Christian Little League
If you watch young children play sport, you soon recognize that they can be placed in two general categories – (1) the enthusiastic children who eagerly chase the ball and then kick it without thinking, and (2) the procrastinating children who see the ball coming and think maybe they should do something (after the ball has passed them, they are then certain they should have).
When at first we become Christians, we can generally be placed into two categories – those who act and seldom think, and those who think but seldom act.
This is natural behaviour for the ‘Christian Little League’. However, changes occur the longer we stay in the Christian game. As we attain a fuller understanding of the rules and continually practice the spiritual skills, our actions and thoughts start to synchronize until they become one. Then it is only a matter of time before God signs up those ‘skillful Christian athletes’ to face the Big League. (Philippians 3:12-14)
No one aspires to be an armchair-athlete; it’s something we become if we are not wary. Armchair-athletes are the people who religiously watch sports, wear all the gear and seem to be experts – but they usually don’t play sports or exercise themselves. They are often critical and judgmental when real athletes drop the ball and are quick to tell how they would have made the plays – but in reality they are exhausted by simply getting off the couch.
One of the reasons why few aspire to be Christians today is because of ‘armchair- Christians’. We have too many ungraceful Christians being critical and judgmental of others. Their pious speech makes them seem like experts on Christianity, but they seldom practice the graceful ways of Christ.
Today, people see Christians as narrow-minded hypocrites. They soon learn what Christians say is very different to how they live. They witness Christians being rude and judgmental; Christians being deceitful and dishonest; Christians grumbling and breaking under adversity; Christians that have joyless marriages and dysfunctional family lives; Christians that are miserable and depressed. They look at these Christians and say, ‘I live better than them. If that is what being a Christian is, then I want no part of it.’
However, Jesus Christ is the example of what a Christian should be. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
As Christians, we should be reflections of Christ. We should be spiritually powerful people who excel in the sport-of-life. We should stop throwing rocks at people whose sins are different from ours and start showing grace. In times of adversity we should be poised, compassionate and relaxed; in times of prosperity: graceful, charitable and considerate. Our marriage should be a living example of joy; our family life an example of team unity. The only way to achieve this is to apply the Word of God and put it into practice in our own life (not force it on others).
When people examine the lives of Christians they should see a relaxed, inner strength and joy which they themselves lack and dearly would like. However, this will only start happening when Christians stop being armchair-Christians and dedicate themselves to being Christian-athletes.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
Horses are often very reluctant to jump hurdles. That’s why in sport of show jumping, riders train them initially by placing the hurdle very low. Each time the horse shies away from the jump, the patient rider brings the reluctant horse back to try again. With encouragement, eventually the horse will go over. Then when the horse confidently meets each challenge, the rider will raise the pole and continue to encourage the horse to conquer the course set before it.
God is training us to overcome the course He has set before us. He has planned a spiritual journey for each of us, which means crossing into many fields of endeavour. The problem is each field is separated by an obstacle and, before we enter a new field, we must jump the hurdle. As with show jumping, there are many hurdles to overcome as we advance in our spiritual lives. These cover an infinite variety of different things (usually personal issues of which only you and God are aware), but they are a barrier to your advancement. God will lead us to each hurdle and encourage us to jump. He knows our ability and will never direct us to a hurdle that is too high. Like horses, we shy away at times and even buck God off (reject God’s plan). But when we allow God back on the saddle, He will lead us to that same hurdle time and time again.
On the day we finally overcome that obstacle, we will find God has led us into a fresh field of endeavour, with even further fields in sight. He will lead us patiently over to our next hurdle, encouraging us onwards to spiritual greatness. (Psalms 18:29)
Hitting the Mark
A marksman is defined as someone who shoots with great skill and accuracy.
We are all marksmen aiming at our own goals and objectives. Some people are better than others at hitting their mark.
As marksmen, we can go through life shooting at our own targets (sometimes hitting and sometimes missing) – or we have the choice of handing our arrows to God.
When God starts overshooting our targets, we can’t be blamed to think He has missed the mark. But God is a perfect marksman and never misses. One day we will come to realise He was never aiming at our target – but a target far beyond our range of vision. As we pass it, we will see God hit the target squarely in the centre.
Mankind is often too short-sighted to see the targets of an eternal God. Sometimes our arrows (purpose in life) will hit the target (bear fruit) long after we are dead. On handing our arrows to God we should keep in mind that just because we can’t see where God sent our arrow doesn’t mean He didn’t hit the mark.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6.
Running the Victory Lap
When a winning athlete is granted a lap of honour, it is a most joyous occasion. As he or she runs smiling and waving around the arena, proudly holding their country’s flag, their victory is celebrated by many as the athlete has brought glory to their country.
Jesus Christ was victorious at the cross. He paid the complete penalty for our sins and guaranteed eternal salvation for all who desire it, (Romans 6:23, John 3:16). However, Jesus Christ didn’t hang about for his victory lap. Instead, he headed off to build us all a mansion in Heaven (John 14: 1-4). In his absence, he has asked us to do the victory lap for him.
Thus as Christians, our lives should reflect the joyful athlete running the victory lap. When we run around the ‘Arena of Life’ facing its tests and trials, we should do it with the full knowledge that the race has already been won. That no matter how we succeed or fail, our eternal salvation is guaranteed and secured because of Christ’s victorious work on the cross. ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,lest anyone should boast’. Ephesians 2: 8-9:
We should run proud and carefree and hold high the flag of Christ for everyone to see. When the crowd see our joyful life and the flag we are holding (especially undergoing adversity), they will understand whom the victory belongs. Happiness is contagious and people want to celebrate with a winner. A joyous, relaxed, grace-filled life is a beacon to those living in darkness.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Use It or Lose It
Once, we may have been great at sport, but if we have neglected those skills and run impulsively onto the field, we should not be surprised when we limp off with an injury.
If we live long enough, we soon come to understand the truth of the saying, ‘If you don’t use it – you will lose it.’
We may remember a time when we were strong in our Christian walk and faith, but now our faith is easily rattled and we spend more time trusting in our own strategies than in God’s. The Christian life is similar to sporting and academic life. If our acquired skills and knowledge are not continually developed they will be lost from lack of use.
Our ‘spiritual’ skills such as: faith-rest, Grace-outlook and Christ-like love, are maintained and developed through study and prayer. Should we neglect to practice and use our acquired skills, we should not be surprised if we lose them and the subsequent benefits.
We live in the Devil’s World; everything is conspiring to get our thoughts off God and onto self. The result: preoccupation with self, lack of grace, dissatisfaction, intolerance and depression. We may remember a time where our graceful ways would inspire people, but now people avoid us because we are bitter, needy or pessimistic.
We may say we are Christian, but if we neglect to maintain our spiritual skills we will eventually lose them from lack of use. Sadly, our neglected Christian skills will not avail us in this selfish world and we will wonder why we receive spiritual injury after injury.
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Seas of Circumstance
Our body is like a boat and we are its Captain.
We sail through life on the Seas of Circumstance.
It is up to us in which direction we head.
There will be many waves with Crests of Exhilaration and Troughs of Depression.
Luckily, the Winds of Grace are always blowing.
However, many of us pull down our Sails of Faith, reach for our Oars of Craving and row straight onto the Reef of Distraction.
Spiritual Body Building
A strong body needs good food and exercise. Food fuels the body and exercise makes it stronger. If we don’t eat healthy food and exercise our body will eventually become weak and inflexible and even the smallest physical exertion will cause injury to our puny muscles.
Our physical life mirrors our spiritual life. If we are not consuming the right spiritual food (Word of God) we will soon become weak and inflexible and the smallest adversity or prosperity will break our puny spiritual muscles. No matter what our circumstances, good or bad, we will be miserable, stressed and complaining.
If we routinely consume the Word of God, this gives us spiritual energy to handle the trials and pressures of life. When we apply Biblical truth to our daily circumstances we are ‘spiritually exercising’ which in turn builds spiritual muscle. Spiritual muscle is a relaxed mental attitude, a strong faith, a Christ-like love and confidence under pressure. (2Cor 4:7-18)
The more we exercise the more spiritual muscle we build. The greater our spiritual muscle – the greater our capacity to handle pressure, adversity and prosperity.
God designed us to have abundant spiritual strength to handle our own problems and eventually be strong enough to help family, friends and others will their load.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Playing within the Boundary
When playing sport, we are free to move anywhere as long as the ball is kept within the boundaries. However, when the ball goes over the boundary line it is no longer in play and a whistle is blown. Thus no goal can be scored from out-of-bounds.
God has given us freedom to pursue many pleasures. As long as we keep within the boundary lines, these pleasures will continue to bring enjoyment and be beneficial. If we cross the line, God blows the whistle of repercussions.
Sex was designed to be pleasurable within the boundaries of marriage. A glass of wine can be both enjoyable and have health benefits but we are out-of-bounds if we are drunk. Sport, social life, travel, shopping and learning are all legitimate pleasures – a gift from God for us to enjoy; however, when any of these pleasures become an obsession and more important than our pursuit of God, we have crossed the boundary line; then God is forced to blow His ‘whistle of repercussions’. It may take the form of a nasty hangover, a venereal disease, bankruptcy, a breakup or even a breakdown. When we hear the warning whistle, we must quickly bring the ball back to the field (get our life back in fellowship) before our foolish actions take us completely out of the game. (Ecc. 7:17)
In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them. Proverbs 22:5NIV
Navigating the Rapids
Canoeing can be a most pleasant experience – as long as we don’t tip over the canoe. After learning to paddle we can direct our own course. With more practice, we can even paddle safely down rapids – a most exhilarating experience. However, should we should fall out of our canoe, we are instantly at the mercy of the currents and have no control over where we are swept.
Every person is adrift on the vast ‘River of Life’. Sometimes the water is calm and tranquil, while at other times it’s a raging torrent of rapids and waterfalls. When we first become Christians (born-again) we are given ‘Spiritual Life’ (a canoe) to enable us to navigate (understand spiritual truths). However, when we sin, we fall out of fellowship. To get back in our canoe and remain upright (in fellowship in our Spiritual Life) we must name our sins (privately) to God, (see 1 John 1:9). God will then cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Once back in fellowship (upright in our canoe) we are filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn more Biblical truths. To advance in the Spiritual Life, we must use our free-will (paddles) to apply the truths and promises we understand. This is what gives us momentum and control in our lives.
If we remain upright in the Spiritual Life and use our volition to apply promises, God will direct us to navigate life’s treacherous spots successfully. Alternatively, if we fall out of fellowship and don’t upright ourselves (by applying 1 John 1:9) it won’t be long before we are swept uncontrollably down the ‘Rapids of Life’.
Every sporting event has its heroes. A sporting hero is simply a person who manages to do the right thing at the right time in the right place.
Life is an event greater than any ‘sporting event’ and we are all its participants. Life also has its heroes – people who say and do the right thing at the right time in the right place. Every Christian has a shot at being a champion and as long as we’re alive we’re still in the game.
Whether we agree with God or not, we are born at the right time in the right place. Now, all we have to do is the right thing – and that is choosing God’s plan over our own.
Like any good coach, God only uses prepared people. When we are focused on self, we miss great opportunities because we are too absorbed in our own personal desires. When we are focused on God through studying His Word, we will soon be prepared to think and act appropriately in tricky circumstances.
In a sporting event, a competitor has only a split second to make a right decision. A split second is the difference between becoming a hero or remaining a nobody. Compared to eternity, life is but a split second. Let us hope when time has run out and our innings is over, that we don’t eternally regret dropping the ball. If we trust in God, we will catch that ball and kick a goal at the perfect time to bring glory to Him.
“Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lords…” 1 Samuel 17:47
Walking the Walk
What is the good of having a black belt when you are too afraid to stand up for yourself? You may know all the fancy moves and win many points sparring in the safe, controlled environment of the Club, but if you are fearful in daily life and freeze under pressure, people will soon see your martial arts as a joke.
Memorising scripture and Christian doctrines may be handy, but of little use if not applied to daily life. We may be a pastor, a church elder or Sunday school teacher, but if for example we are stressing, miserable or fearful, we are not ‘walking the walk’. Furthermore, if we are judgemental, hold grudges and easily angered, what do we really say to those around us about grace? We may proclaim the virtues of Christianity, but the world demands we ‘put our money where our mouth is’.
In the controlled environment of the Church, we might impress many people with our knowledge of the Bible and scripture quotations. But while we may win many pious-points at church, if we start whingeing, gossiping, maligning and judging in our daily lives, Christianity will be seen as a joke.
The world wants to see evidence of our faith. What’s more, God wants it displayed for His glory. When it comes to Christianity – we must ‘walk the walk’, not just ‘talk the talk’. Remember, it’s not how much scripture we know, but how genuinely we apply that which we understand.
The result of trusting God and applying His Word is the development of a relaxed, graceful attitude that will not get rattled under pressure. For those around us, the exhibition of integrity, grace and inner peace is an undeniable testimony to our Christian Faith.
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3
God's Professional Fighters
If a professional fighter is determined to win they enter the ring prepared. They have a plan of attack – a strategy that will penetrate their opponent’s defences. What’s more, they have strong resolve to keep fighting if they get knocked down. Winning fighters don’t give up; they get back up, reassess and keep on fighting until the bell rings.
Teachers of God’s Word are like professional fighters – if they are determined to win souls to Christianity they need to be prepared. If they continue to step into the pulpit unprepared, pandering to minority groups, or intimidated by members of the congregation, it won’t be long before they are ‘KNOCKED OUT’ from the pulpit.
Teachers of God’s Word should keep in mind their job is not to win friends but to win over people to God’s way of thinking. God’s teachers must hit with the Truth, employing various techniques of exhortation and encouragement. Sometimes the Truth will bruise, but the pulpit is no place for pussy-footing or pulling punches – God’s Word should never be watered down or adjusted for political correctness.
For these reasons, God’s fighters will often get knocked down. When this inevitably happens, they should not listen to the ‘boos’ or ‘cheers’ of the crowd. The only voice to heed is that of their coach (the Holy Spirit). When knocked down, great spiritual fighters will always get back up, reassess the situation, retrain as needed and return to the pulpit ever faithful to God’s plan.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
Running the Wrong Race
A man raced off to a closing-down sale to buy a TV. He ran so fast that if he had been competing at the Olympics he would have broken a world record. Yet, for all his effort and amazing speed, he did not receive either a gold medal or a lucrative sponsorship – nor was his name listed in the record books. His trophy was a half-price TV he would soon put out for kerbside rubbish collection.
Are we running the wrong race? Are we using our innate energy to gain something of limited value? Why run after material gain or fame when death invariably takes it all away? How does attaining personal riches and glory help us beyond the grave? (Job 1:21a: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return”)
Nothing we acquire on earth can buy our way into heaven. Only by accepting God’s gift of Salvation through believing in Christ can we be saved. Once saved, we are on the starting block. From that point every day is an opportunity to run our race before the Lord. If our life is run in His direction, we not only prevail on earth but become eternal winners with perpetual rewards and trophies complete with a guarantee of everlasting satisfaction. (Hebrews 12:1)
Sitting on the Bench
In professional sport, athletes have contracts that keep them on the team for an agreed period of time. However, an athlete who does not apply himself during training may be confident he won’t be ‘kicked off’ the team while under contract, but he can expect to be benched on the sidelines when the big games are on.
When people believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, God immediately ‘signs them up’ as Christians. They now have an unbreakable contract with God, secure for eternity. Once in-Christ (a Christian) we can never be dropped from God’s team. We learn in verses such as: John 3:16, Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 that when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (accept He died as our substitute on the cross) we are eternally saved. In grace God paid the entire price of our salvation at the cross – we just accept the gift through faith. This is God’s eternal guarantee – His contract with us.
This is great news; we have an unbreakable contract with God that guarantees us eternal salvation. However, this does not mean we idly sit around doing nothing in life. God has a plan for us which requires our personal dedication. If we fail to show up for training (study the Bible) and continually drop the ball (in Christian service), we should not be surprised if God benches us on the sidelines. God only uses prepared people and won’t send Christians onto the field who don’t turn up for training, or whose actions allow the opposition to score.
We read in the Bible there will be a great victory celebration in eternity. This is the time when everyone is applauding the Christian athletes who helped score the ‘touchdowns’. When they are finally being recognised and rewarded, we may sadly regret how preoccupied in life we were with our own plans. God is not going to punish us for choosing our plans over His, but we will probably kick ourselves when we fully realise we had an amazing opportunity to be part of the ‘big game’ yet we chose to chase worthless things on the sidelines. Yes, there will be some regrets when we realise the decisions we make in life do have repercussions into eternity.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. 2 Timothy 2:15.
A good coach doesn’t let his prize fighter compete in a major bout without preparation. The fighter is trained in many different techniques, initially practising on various punching bags. But punching bags don’t punch back and so the coach has to arrange sparring partners so his fighter can apply and test learned skills before the big tournament.
As Christians, we are God’s prize fighters. Inevitably, we will face a ‘Goliath-challenge’, be it a person, an unpleasant circumstance or maybe the greatest test of all – prosperity. God, like any good coach, will do all in His power to prepare us. However, it is up to us whether or not we listen or turn up for training.
Learning and applying God’s Word (Biblical Truths) is our ‘punching bag’ stage of training. As we progress, God has to bring sparring partners into our lives so we can put into practice the spiritual techniques we have learnt. At times God allows bullies to enter our life at school, in the workplace, in the neighbourhood and even from the family for the purpose of spiritual sparring. Each is an opportunity sent from Heaven so we can strengthen our spiritual skills to overcome even greater challenges ahead of us.
King David dealt with bears and lions before he was ready to face Goliath. To each of us, God has sent unpleasant people and circumstances. If we cannot take on these sparring partners, we surely will be knocked-out when we stand face to face with the many powerful people and nasty circumstances of this world. We must remember, God has allowed every person and situation (especially unpleasant ones) to come into our lives for a very special purpose – spiritual growth and His eternal Glory. Keep in mind: The problem before us is never as great as the Power behind us. (1 Samuel 17:37)
Lost in a Passion
In a time of multi-media, it is so easy to lose yourself in your passions. People can be so engrossed in their world of sport, music, television and gaming that they are lost to any other message. When passions and hobbies become the primary focus, how does one ever find out about God?
For centuries, Christian missionaries have been trained and sent to communicate the Gospel to lost villages deep in the dense jungles of Africa, South America, China, India, and other distant places. But what about those in our communities who are just as lost in their consuming passion? God will raise Christians who know the path, can speak the jargon and can point the way home.
This is why God created many of His Christian sons and daughters with ambitions to be athletes, musicians, actors, artists, directors, writers and other prominent performers, so they can be missionaries in their own field. Yet it is often felt these vocations have little to do with Christianity.
God likes Christians to succeed in their endeavours (while exhibiting Christ’s characteristics) so they can reach those people lost in that passion. God knows that sports fans listen to every word from their favourite athlete or coach. When a famous singer, actor, artist speaks, their words are considered profoundly by their groupies. Those lost in their world of passion may not hear the Gospel from parents, teachers or partners, but ironically will give serious thought to what is said when coming from their heroes. (1 Samuel 2: 30)
Pounding New Members
Martial Arts clubs are always keen to recruit new members. Yet few recruits would ever return if a club’s philosophy was to initially beat them ‘black and blue’ in order to show what poor fighters they were.
When we meet a new believer or someone interested in Christianity, we shouldn’t hit them with our personal list of taboos. Christianity is about a personal relationship with God and Christ not how we dress, the music we listen to, the games we play or books we read – etc, etc.
If we pound people with: ‘NOW YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN, YOU MUST STOP DOING THAT AND START DOING THIS’, we shouldn’t be surprised when they flee from Christianity. Our job is to encourage new Christians, not to bruise them ‘black and blue’ with our list of personal taboos. Furthermore, many of our so-called Christian taboos have no real Biblical standing.
We should demonstrate grace and Christian tolerance. Give new Christians time to find their feet. Don’t add to their load with a list of ‘dos-and-don’ts’. Help them focus on the good news of the Gospel and knowing our Lord Jesus Christ. If changes are needed in their life, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will reform them from within at precisely the right time without any spiritual bruising that our zeal tends to make.
Come to Me, all who are weary and whose load is heavy; I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 REB
Ride of a Life-time
When bike riding, it is exhilarating to coast downhill with the wind whistling by. It’s easy to be proud of speeds reached with so little effort. However, we often forget in these thrilling moments that gravity is doing most of the work. The real test of bike riding is when peddling uphill with the wind against you. Great strength does not come from coasting downhill, but by exerting yourself on the ride uphill.
Our journey through life is full of ups and down. It is so easy to coast through prosperity when everyone is behind us, backing and congratulating us. In positive and encouraging circumstances, life takes little effort and it’s easy to become overconfident.
The real test of character comes when we hit a steep hill of adversity – the wind suddenly changes and everyone seems against us. Progress can be so agonisingly slow that we feel it would be easier to give up. However, God allows us to go through times of adversity to give us a chance to grow ‘spiritual’ muscle.
If life was simply a continuous ride of prosperity, the result would be a big, self-serving ego. Adversity quickly reminds us that we must focus on God and trust in His Word. It’s in our weakness that we become strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). When we push uphill trusting in God, spiritual muscle is formed. Our future ‘inner’ strength is built from the adversities we overcome today.
When we are riding with God, life becomes exciting again. We know the mountains before us are there to make us stronger. As we start enjoying the ups and downs, people around us will start noticing. They will wonder how we overcome adversity and stay humble in prosperity with such grace and seemingly little effort – and this brings glory to God.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Keeping Up Our Guard
In martial sports like boxing and karate, you soon learn that if you don’t keep your guard up it’s only a matter of time before you are clobbered.
Christianity promises a life of inner joy – if this is so why are there so many uptight, depressed Christians?
We may be able to quote the Bible from cover to cover, we may know all the promises and can converse on any biblical doctrine, but if we don’t apply that which we have learnt we are defenceless. We are like a fighter who knows all the fancy moves but gets into the ring and freezes – all his knowledge is useless and will not save him from being hit.
The Bible tells us that the world will slug us if we do not keep our guard up (1 Peter 5:8-9). If we don’t apply the ‘Biblical Truths’ we have learnt to our daily circumstances we will get clobbered by adversity and slapped miserable in prosperity.
We guard ourselves from stress, bitterness and depression by applying biblical promises and doctrines. This is where many Christians fail because there is a huge difference between knowing and applying. Many people live Christianity academically and never actually trust the things they learn in the Bible; instead they lean on their own wisdom or worldly council then wonder why life always knocks them down.
We must actively trust that God will honour His Word at the right time and in a right way (even if His time and way doesn’t seem right to us). If we hand our problems to God but continue to stress, it may be an indication that we have little faith.
Remember, we get results not by what we know but how we apply that knowledge. When we keep our ‘spiritual’ guard up, adversities in life won’t knock us out. Only then will we start developing the relaxed-attitude and joy promised to us in the Bible.
John 15:11 states: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
NOTE: These amazing Bible illustrations were created by Free Christian Illustrations. In conjunction with our partnership with Free Christian Illustrations, Bible IQ received express permission to provide this creative content on our website. Free Christian Illustrations is an amazing organization with a similar Bible-focused and Kingdom-building mission and we encourage all of our readers to visit them at www.freechristianillustrations.com.