When a team wins a championship or an individual wins in a competition, the focus is often on the product rather than the process. No one asks about the practice sessions, the strict dietary guidelines, and the training it took to position themselves for winning. We celebrate the victory (and we should) but forget about what it took to get there.
As we approach the end of the school year, both parents and teachers are constantly telling their students to “finish strong!” We must however realize that without the right foundation, not only will finishing be tough, it may be impossible!
This past week I purchased a bike to help me with my fitness goals. I see people riding their bikes everyday. It looks easy enough. After all, isn’t that where we get the expression, “It’s just like riding a bike?” And yet, after a few moments on my bike, I realized that expression is not always true. Praise the Lord I didn’t fall or hurt myself but this thought came to my mind, “I don’t remember biking being this hard!” There were three reason for the difficulty.
First, it has been a long time since I rode a bike. I’ve pedaled a few times here and there but nothing like pedaling for training purposes. It was torturous!
Sometimes, Christians think that when they fall away from their spiritual habits it’s going to be easy to just pick it back up. When your spiritual life atrophies much like my biking muscles did, there’s going to be some challenges. This is why being consistent and not quitting is so important. Satan knows if he can get you to stop for a period of time, the likelihood of you continuing the race is slim.
Biking was difficult, secondly because I am a lot heavier now that when I used to ride all the time. It’s the law of physics! Gravity was slowing my bike down and my weight has something to do with it!
Hebrews 12 tells us that we need to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…” Riding was hard because of all my extra weight. Likewise living for God is burdensome when we have extra baggage!
Lastly, biking was a challenge to me because the original seat was too hard. I know this sounds petty but if I am going to enjoy riding long distances, I need comfort.
How often Christians try to “kick against the pricks” when it comes to their walk with God. You and I cannot reason away our disobedience and lack of commitment to God. He has said it and that settles it! Obedience to God is nonnegotiable.
Do you realize a life of disobedience is an uncomfortable, unfulfilling life? We live with a critical, complaining, and carnal spirit when we are at odds with the Lord. The ride to Heaven becomes unnecessarily hard. The goal is not to cover the seat but to change it; the goal is not to just have more good works than bad, rather it is to put off the works of the flesh and to continue to walk in the Spirit.
I want to keep riding and want to finish strong. But that won’t happen if I don’t have a good foundation; if I don’t consistently eat right, work right, and live right. Likewise at the end of my life, I want to say as the Apostle Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” But if I don’t daily feast on the Word of God, continually do the work of God, and consistently live for God, I will be a castaway.
Finish strong? Sure. Win the battle. Absolutely. Keep the faith. Without question. But don’t forget what it takes to get to that goal. Better yet, don’t forget Who it takes to get to that goal- I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST!