Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rock Climbing Discipline

I'm still sore from rock climbing. Not a real scaling-the-mountain thing, but a challenging indoor rock wall. The soreness, though, is definitely real.

My family and I had a chance to spend a few days vacationing in tropical St. Louis last week. As a pastor it's important for the vacation time to be spent out of town. Hopefully it's a great opportunity to reaffirm the family bond, enjoy our time with each other, face new adventures together, establish some family traditions, then come back refreshed and ready to get back to work. That's what our week has been for us, and for me.

The rock wall was at the St. Louis Mills mall in the Nascar Speedpark area. On Saturday they had a two-for one deal on wristbands that allowed you access to the go-carts, bumper boats, Lazer Tag, mini-golf and the rock climbing wall. I bought the boys wristbands so they could do as much as they wanted, and I bought some extra tickets so that I could go with them on some things. I wasn't exactly planning on trying out the rock wall.

Did you know that when some muscles don't get used very much, and then all of a sudden you engage them in strenuous activity, they have a way of hollering back at you the next morning?

Tyler wanted to climb the rock wall, and so I joined him. I wasn't even half way up when I fell the first time. But I got up, shook off my embarrassment, and went back up. This time I made it to the top, using those muscles that would soon get even with me.

I went on one more climb on the other wall, and scaled that one, which seemed a bit easier. Tyler also made it to the top on that wall. But after that I was done. I could feel my forearms weakening by the minute, and I knew I had nothing left to give.

I wasn't sure where I wanted to head with this post, but every story has to have a spiritual purpose, right? I think for me the lesson is this: "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." (1 Timothy 4:7)

If I had been training my body regularly, I would have been prepared to face the rock wall. I would have eagerly looked forward to such a challenge. Even though the task may still have seemed daunting, I would have known that I could handle it. And my muscles would not have been so irritated at me the next day.

Doesn't it seem like when God places a challenge in front of us that the difference in whether we make it or break it is in our spiritual preparedness? If I am disciplining, or training, myself in the ways of godliness consistently, then the challenges that come my way don't seem so difficult. They may still be daunting, but when I'm fit in the strength that Christ provides, then what can I not handle? What load can I not bear in the sufficiency of God's grace?

We need - and I need - to be daily preparing for the rock climbing walls of life. We train ourselves for the purpose of godliness by feeding on the word of God, praying without ceasing, trusting Him for all things, obeying His commands, seeking His kingdom, relying upon His provision, walking in His guidance, resting in His promises, letting His Holy Spirit direct all our ways, and so on.

Godliness is profitable for all things. I will never have any regrets in following hard after the things of God. The effort, the work, the discipline, the sacrifice - whatever it takes to train myself in the ways of godliness - will all be more than worthwhile.

Lord God Almighty, there is great joy in the ways of godliness, and O how valuable your way is in facing whatever rock walls are set before me. With your help I can advance against the foe. With your help I can scale a wall. Strengthen me in your grace, and strengthen your church in your power. May we discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, knowing it is profitable for all things.