No one really ever notices the weight gain until one day you wake up and realize just how tight those pants are. The crazy part is how easily you fool yourself into thinking you're just as fit and just as skinny as you once were. It isn't until you get to the gym and lift the weight that you realize you're no where near where you once were and that it will take TIME to get you back again.
I remember driving to church that afternoon, like any other Saturday, and just not wanting to go. Something came over me, I just didn't feel like going. I can't even explain what it was, I just wasn't compelled to go. Immediately I thought of what I would miss out on with friends if I went. I thought of what would happen in the lives of others that I wouldn't be present for. Thoughts of worthlessness began to creep in. There I sat in the church parking lot, wondering if I should go in, waiting for the thoughts to go away. They didn't, so I did. I left church. The same thing happened to me again, only this time it was Wed, then Sat, then everyday.
Sin is subtle. It must first plant itself, be watered, and with time, grow. No one just decided over night to wake up one morning and kill a man. No one decides one day, "Hey, I feel like backsliding!" Remember what James says in 1:14-16. He likens it to birth. We all know that child birth doesn't just happen overnight, it takes 9 months. I'm not saying you have 9 months before it is to late, but I am saying that the longer you entertain the thought, the longer you toy with the idea, the longer you wait to nip the bud, the bigger the bud gets. When Jesus spoke in Matt 5:21-26 He was saying that all sin is the same in His eyes, but He is also saying that sin, if not kept in check leads to, yup you guessed it, more sin. What may start as hate in the heart, may root itself so deep that it may eventually give birth to murder, just like James 1:14-16.
I can still remember not praying about it, I can still remember not seeking godly counsel, man if only I had read a Proverb on "wisdom in a multitude of counsel" or the verse on how "sin lies at the door". If only I had read my favorite book of the bible, if only. If only's do little for you now, looking back, it is easy for me to pin-point where I went wrong. Looking forward it's so hard accepting the ground I need to make up for and the new ground I need to cover. Sometimes I just don't want to and sometimes I ask myself why bother? Complacency is so easy, but it brings forth much more pain in the long run (Zeph 1:12).
The pain that comes from working out the muscles is sometimes unbearable. With each press, each pull, each push, each dash, my muscles are cut up and torn. What takes place after this though is remarkable. The body begins taking the food you eat, and the protein you feed it, and repairs the tears and builds on it new muscle. That new muscle itself will then tear and on it will be put more muscle, and this is how muscle growth works (simply put). All this pushing, pulling, tearing, and dashing builds strength.
This is also how Spiritual growth works. If I leave church (the gym) for a while, my muscles (spiritual ones) begin to lose their solidity. Sure the first few weeks I still have my strength, but over time, it fades (I become cold water). When I return to the gym (church/God) after months or in some cases years, I find myself struggling to lift the lightest weight. Memories of what I once could do begin to flood my mind and I am tempted to leave, however, the failure of having left the first time reminds me what happens when I leave (and this is where that trial, builds character and patience).
With each pull, each push, each tear, and each dash, God begins to tear us up and rebuild us over time. Through the use of His word, He makes us complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). No one said it would be easy, especially when you leave for a while. It's even harder to get back and stay back, but He is faithful and His work cannot be reversed (Isaiah 43:13).
Paul reminds us in Hebrews 12:1 that we have before us a race, race in the greek is "agōn" which literally means "any struggle or contest, a battle, an action at law, trial, a fight". We will see hardship, we will see trials, it is a battle, a race which requires endurance and patience. When you come to the realization that His burden is light, His yoke is easy, we can get rest at His feet, we realize that our race while normal (just ask the cloud of witnesses Paul talks about in Heb 12:1), if run with an endurance that comes from Him and a patience and a peace that He provides, it doesn't matter what comes our way, He is on our team remember?
So that is nice on paper Chris, but how does one put all these words into practice? Next blog I'll talk about what God has shown me in these last few months...