Science says there are anywhere between 640 and 850 muscles in the body. Anytime we do something we’re not used to, we tend to pull one we didn’t know we had. The same thing happened to me on Monday while I was weed-eating. I found a rock under the weeds that I was cutting down and twisted my lower back. Good news: I kept my balance. Bad news: I was in pain.
Certain people suggest when something like that happens, it only means that the injured person didn’t do any exercises or stretches before doing the work. While I despise the “e-word” (exercise), those people have a point. If I had stretched my back before taking on the job, perhaps it wouldn’t have been injured as badly.
As much I didn’t want to, God has told me to compare this incident to what He requires of us as Christians. He wants us to exercise our spiritual muscles so that when the time comes for them to be unusually stretched, our spirit won’t be unprepared.
2 Timothy 4:2 states: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” We need to be prepared in season and out of season. That means not only do we need to be ready for the weeds and hidden rocks during summer time, but we also need to be ready for anything that is thrown our way no matter the timing.
1 Peter 3:15-16 states: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” We have to have a ready answer for the questions about what we believe. If we aren’t, we lose that opportunity and Satan has won that battle!
1 Corinthians 9:24 states: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” How are we able to realistically run to get the prize unless we stretch, train, and go through the *ahem* exercises?
2 Timothy 1:7 states: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” We are not in this exercise routine by ourselves! God helps us by providing others to train alongside us and to coach us! Discipling is a key part to our spiritual growth and strengthening!
Hebrews 12:11 states: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” This is the hope I know I can hold onto when I’m going through the spiritual stretches in which God trains me.
All this said, if you’re like me, you don’t want to do the work to get the benefits. However, if it is only handed to us, we won’t enjoy it nearly as much. We would take it for granted at some point and not cherish it. However, if you allow God to train you and put you through the exercises, you will be MUCH better prepared when the time comes to gather the fruit of your labor!
Jim Fershee is the Youth Pastor at Spirit Life Fellowship.