All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. -Hebrews 12:11
Early in the month of December, I accepted an 8-week fitness challenge from one of our church members. Since that time, four mornings per week I arrive at the gym at 5:30 AM to meet with Andrew, our trainer. His job is to keep us all inspired to meet our fitness goals, to make sure we exercise with correct form so we won't injure ourselves, and to crank up the music when the going gets really rough!
Each week, Andrew writes an inspirational message, a personal reflection, or a "fitness riddle" on the white board to carry us through the week. One of his recent riddles went like this ... "Five frogs were sitting at the edge of a pond. Three frogs decided to jump into the pond. How many frogs remained at the edge of the pond?"
As we continued our planks, reverse lunges, and goblet squats, all the while pondering the riddle, Andrew went on to explain that five frogs remained at the edge. Just because three had decided to jump in didn't mean they actually splashed into the water. He used this analogy to discuss the numbers of folks who make New Year's fitness resolutions, but then lack the discipline to carry through with their resolve.
In the Book of Hebrews, the author writes of a father's discipline as an analogy to God's discipline as evidence that we are God's children. Far from being a reason for despair, however, discipline is a basis for encouragement and perseverance. When received submissively, discipline is wholesome and beneficial.
Did you make any New Year's resolutions related to your spiritual health? Gray's current sermon series "The Five Habits of Highly Effective Christians" may have stoked in you a renewed commitment to attend worship each week or to set aside time for daily prayer. Perhaps you have decided to join a small group Bible study, or simply to find a time each day for personal reflection.
Just as a runner concentrates on the finish line, we should concentrate on Jesus, the goal and objective of our faith. How many times have we set out to accomplish our goals with vigor and vim, only to find ourselves distracted by week's end? When the confines of life overtake us and we find ourselves weary and tempted to be discouraged, we should remember, indeed, what a friend we have in Jesus!
Deciding to make changes for the better is like hopping on one foot - only halfway commitment and hard to maintain for very long. Actually making the leap forward on both feet will assure a much smoother landing on solid footing - so say a little prayer and JUMP!
Prayer for Today
O God, be with our college kids and young adult children as they launch out into the world. Help us to let go and let you be in charge. Amen.