The other day I started taking a class at my local gym today and it kicked my {very out-of-shape} behind. It’s an hour long class, and while I’ll admit it didn’t seem that long, when we got just past the half way mark, I thought I might either pass out or lose my breakfast. For those brief moments I wanted to throw in the towel, but my friend who has been taking the class longer than I encouraged me to keep going. And I’m so glad she did. Once I pressed in and got past that rough spot, it got better. The workout wasn’t easier, but my body adjusted, the nausea and light headed feeling went away and the burn felt good. 
It got me thinking as I recovered this afternoon. It’s the same when we’re spiritually out of shape. Difficult circumstances can cause us to turn inward and we spiritually veg. Our spiritual muscles begin to atrophy.

 We stop going to God’s Word to feed ourselves what is good and healthy for our soul and instead we gorge ourselves on what makes our flesh feel good {e.g. , television, novels, sports, video games, social media}. I’ve been there recently. Along with the news of my dad’s cancer, it seemed that other burdens and difficult circumstances were continuously coming from every direction. The weight was so heavy on me that I could no longer multi task. I could only focus on one thing at a time. There is something to be said about taking life one day at a time, but this was more a situation of the fact that my mind couldn’t handle planning ahead or work out appointments to coincide. Looking back I see that I was also inside my own head a lot. I wasn’t necessarily fretting or dealing with anxiety, I just didn’t want to deal with any of it. I wanted it all to go away or better yet, for me to go away and let someone else handle all of the details and organization. I wasn’t in the Word and I wasn’t praying much because I felt I lacked coherent thought. 
My change came when I gathered with some close friends and other ministry leaders’ wives for soul care and prayer. A dear friend shared about how she was convicted to pray more for the Holy Spirit to fill her each day. The Spirit after all is the comforter, the giver of wisdom and our helper. After being prayed for that day and being encouraged to pray for more of the Holy Spirit, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The clarity of mind didn’t come right away, but I felt like I could press in to the circumstances around me and {though still slowly} accomplish what was on my plate. I had been functioning in my own strength, rather than using my spiritual muscles, ie: going to the Word, asking the Holy Spirit for help and preaching the Gospel to myself.
There are a lot of different scenarios and situations that may require us to press in and do the hard thing rather than throw in the towel. 


your marriage is at a difficult place and it seems like your spouse won’t ever change…

your child is in a season of rebellion and at the moment your correction isn’t bearing fruit…

there is a friendship or family relationship that needs restoration, but the wound is deep…

the guilt and shame of a pattern of sin are keeping you from the Father…

Whatever the case may be, let me encourage you. Press in through the difficulty.  Feel the good “burn” of working your spiritual muscles. Experience the good pain of spiritual growth. Just as with physical workouts, the pain of stretching those muscles will remain for a short period of time, but as you press in, it will get easier and your confidence with grow. You will begin to see the fruit of your efforts combined with the grace of God. 

We know that the Heavenly Father disciplines those He loves. Sometimes this is through correction and specific consequences. Other times this discipline is through training. Training to become disciplined. Training is often hard, but when we press in, we reap benefits that are often greater than we could have ever imagined. The apostle Paul puts it best…

As I pray for God’s help in lifting my physically drooping hands and weak knees today, I am praying that by God’s grace, you will choose to press in to your difficulty so that you may bear the fruit of righteousness.


PS: Don’t miss that in both my physical workout and my spiritual workout, I had friends to encourage me. God has given us fellowship with one another for this purpose… Two are better than one… For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! {Eccl. 4:9-10} If you are currently going it alone, find a friend to bring into your situation, so that when you are weak and ready to give up, they can lift your drooping hands and encourage you to go on.


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