Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Gospel of Gump

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time...Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace..." Hebrews 12:11

In this October's issue of Woman's Day there is a focus on discipline: whether it's recognizing a physical ailment and taking steps overcome the hurdles, repairing your finances, or becoming an entrepreneur, discipline is a the base of success. Discipline is at the base of victory.

The Apostle Paul set us up for success by outlining how discipline works:

1. Throw off what hinders.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..."

Sometimes what is hindering us is not obvious. You can focus on the extra weight, the piles of mess around the house, the projects that are continually left unfinished, but what lies beneath? Often we are too intimately involved with the issues that are at the root of our problems. When we can determine that it is our pride that has become a major obstacle (can't ask for help, can't let anyone know about our mess) it is often the case that pride has flourished because of another deeper issue. Many sins thrive on a Petri dish comprised of only two ingredients: fear and shame.

Sin takes root. Sometimes the root has gone deeper than the plant that stems from it's growth. It may take tools, a lot of digging, and help to remove the whole of it, but if we acknowledge it's existence we have already made a step towards running the race.

2. Run with perseverance

"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

Keep moving. I can't help myself from thinking of Forrest Gump who "just kept running." Critics of the Oscar winning film thumbed their noses at the simpleton who made millions by making a series of lucky choices, but I appreciated the subtler lesson. Forrest was obedient to those in authority and to those whom he respectfully loved in humility. The race marked out for him was as simple as following orders. Often we long to know God's will, or the answer to the question why. The race is set for us in the simpler things, the things we cannot possibly find by our own understanding. What CAN we understand? We must put on our shoes, we must take the first step. We may not know where we are going but we can know, love, and trust Who told us to run.

3. Identify with Christ

"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross...Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I put on my shoes. I packed my duffel bag. I got in the car. But I didn't make it to the gym. It's not that I lacked motivation. It's not that I lost faith in the function of the treadmill. I didn't suddenly decide I had reached my goal weight.

I left my ipod at work. There was no point to going to the gym: I had nothing to focus on.

I often think of a point my Mom made once about learning to drive. She was taught by my Uncle Keith who saw her struggle with depth and perception. He encouraged her to look straight ahead and not all around her. That, he instructed her, would keep her driving straight.

It is easy to grow weary when we look at our circumstances. Discouragement is even easier when we look at ourselves. It is Christ who is the perfecter of our faith and He is faithful. Christ does the work.

I look forward to starting off this October surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

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