Feeling the (Spiritual) Burn

I just recently started my workout routine again. I used to be pretty disciplined in this, but taking a six week break after my baby and then having a totally new schedule altogether threw me for a loop. I’m starting with just quick 20 minute workouts I find on YouTube. Twenty minutes is not that long and I’m not that out of shape; I should be able to endure. The Lord revealed something to me the other day as I was doing one of these quick workouts. As the instructor counts down with the last bit of that particular move, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, I quit before the end. It’s like I see the end in sight and so I just stop then because (let me be honest here) whatever particular body part being worked out is burning. Maybe I’m not as in shape as I thought I was ;).

I started to think more about this, how I wasn’t finishing strong with each workout. The very last few reps are when the move gets particularly hard. The first rep, not difficult, but the more reps you add, the more your muscle burns and that’s precisely when I quit. Just recently I was doing a workout where you do a move ten times and then you hold the move for ten seconds and then repeat that sequence three times. As the instructor was encouraging everyone to keep going, she said that continuing when your muscle is burning is when you’re going to see real progress.

This just really struck me. I was seeing how weak I was in my workouts, but also just how weak my belief was in the Lord as He was teaching me through my dinky 20 minute workouts. I’ve told you before, but I’ll say it again, when things don’t go my way or according to my expectations, I’m just a brat. I will be angry or annoyed or will pout, but try to put on a fake smile because I know I shouldn’t be acting that way. And because I don’t want to confess, yet again, that I want my way over the Lord’s. It’s when things don’t go my way that my faith can really be tested. It’s when things don’t go my way, and I see how unrealistic my expectations are, that the “burn” is experienced. But that’s when my faith can actually be strengthened.

I just recently read the NIV version of James 1:2-3 which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Laurie commented in one of her lectures this past semester during Falling in Love Again with Your Lord on David’s statement in Psalm 63 where he says he was thirsting for the Lord like in a dry and weary land where there is no water. She said that when we don’t drink the amount of water our bodies need, it is like we believe we don’t need it. But then the more water we drink, the more we actually want. We discussed this also in my small group and someone else compared this also to working out. It’s hard to start working out, but the more we work out the more we want to do it. I believe this relates so much to James 1:2-3. If I were to actually believe, actively believe that the Lord is in control of all my circumstances and that He loves me, I could be joyful when things don’t go my way. Not a fake happiness that is thrown up even though something I wanted didn’t happen, but a true joy that could come only from the Lord knowing that He is working everything out for His glory and my good. The more I believed in His love and control, the more I could persevere, and that would lead to believing even more. And then my faith in Him would grow, all by His grace.

I want to trust in the Lord completely. I’m thankful I have that desire. My flesh is weak and gives in when circumstances aren’t perfect, when things start to burn. The burning may seem like a bad thing, but just like the workout instructor said, that’s when real progress is taking place. The testing of my faith will produce perseverance and it will for you too! Let’s all pray for grace to believe in the Lord and trust in Him when the burning is taking place.

Planted for His Glory

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