July 3

I must say that I am amazed at how many people are training to do a triathlon, or an ironman, or one of these crazy survival obstacle courses. I must tell you that I have never had the desire to run twenty-six miles (let alone one mile), but there are people who are excitedly training for such an event. I have heard about some of the training required to even attempt some of these really difficult things. Months, and I am sure sometimes, years of training is involved. I would imagine that if I were training to run a twenty-six-mile marathon, I would have made sure that I can run that distance, and even a little bit more. My point is that you don’t wake up the morning of the race and see if you can run that far for the very first time. It takes discipline and training to accomplish something that difficult.

Why is it then, that we think reaching spiritual goals will have less of a price-tag? A very good friend mentioned to our Pastor that he admired an older man in our church, and that he hoped he could become like him. Our Pastor in great wisdom asked a simple question: “Are you willing to pay the price he has paid to become that kind of a man?” Often, I don’t think we even consider that walking with God will cost something. We just assume that God will touch our head with some magic wand and we will become a godly man/woman. That only happens in the movies; it is not reality in the Christian life.

Just showing up for church on Sunday does not mean we will leave having reaped the benefit of the message that was preached or the lesson that was taught. Simply reading a devotional like this, or some other, does not guarantee that we will have it easy that day, and that all our troubles will dissolve. As I talk to family, friends, people I know at church, and even complete strangers, I realize that all of us are facing troubles. Today I read, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71). You might be thinking … it would be good for me if I was never afflicted (had troubles). I believe that the writer of Psalm 119 is the same as I am, and probably the same as you are … if I have troubles, I run to the Word of God for help and wisdom. If things are going well, my Bible reading can become routine, or non-existent. God uses these difficult times in our lives to hone us into the image of His Son. He uses situations that are beyond our experience and knowledge, to drive us into the truths of His Word. This is what builds the character that I hope each of us wants in our lives. These afflictions are necessary if we want to become a man/woman of God.

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