Getting Stronger

Last Saturday, I made some repairs to the stone wall that lines part of our backyard. I’d recently been observing (actually creeping by) a stonemason who’d been upgrading a wall in my neighborhood, thinking to myself,  “Hey, if he can do that, then so can I!” So after doing a bit of research, I gathered my materials together and bought a bag of masonry cement. Saturday rolled around, and eager to get on with my project, I hoisted the 80-lb. bag of rock dust to the back yard to prepare the mix and get after the repairs.

What I did not anticipate, however, was the sheer weight and awkwardness of lifting that bag while in a bent over position. The result, though not immediately noticeable, was several days of back strain and pain, made more tolerable by my pal, Mr. Ibuprofen and 3 of his siblings. Sure, 80-lbs. may not seem like that much, but lift it the wrong way and you’ll quickly discover how brutal such an exercise can be. Truth be known, I have a weak back to begin with. In college (among many other foolish decisions I made), one Friday afternoon I jumped out of a fraternity house second-floor window and landed in a pile of sand (Don’t ask why I did it. It was supposed to be a joke). Upon my encounter with the sand, I discovered the joke was on me as my back was bent into an inhuman position. Let’s just say my chest and knees came together with extreme pressure.

 I stayed in that position for 3 days.

 Alone in my college apartment while all my friends were away (including my roommates and girlfriend), I languished in bed all weekend, unable to walk, eat or find any pain medication. There was no food in the fridge and the cupboards were bone dry (college life!). This was also in the days of no cell phones (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), so if someone wasn’t at home, it meant you couldn’t contact them (imagine that!). In my  72-hour delirium, I do recall crawling to the bathroom once. That wasn’t much fun.

 Upon my girlfriend’s return to campus, she found me in bed, emaciated, in the fetal position, and not smelling too fresh. After feeding me from my favorite burger joint, she got me some medication and a heating pad. Miraculously, in a few days, I no longer walked around like a elderly chimpanzee.

 All that to say, this is one big reason why I have such a weak back.

 Weak muscles can’t bear much weight or lift heavy things. Strong muscles can.

Weakling

 I think faith is as much like a muscle as anything. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. The stronger it becomes, the more weight you can bear and lift.

Some believers have weak faith. They have trouble trusting God for the smallest things. And when the big weight of life lands on them (as it often does), they crumble under the pressure. Some of these people are weak because they are afraid to really let go and give God everything…everything about themselves and their lives (family, career, future, finances, emotions, etc). They are living in disobedience and their spiritual growth is hindered. They are like adults who still suck on pacifiers and throw tantrums. They are miserable people.

Others are weak because they are simply young in their faith and haven’t developed strong muscles yet. Some are plagued by reoccurring sins or areas of immaturity. But in time, they’ll be ok, as long as they keep growing and trusting.

Some Christians are weak because they subconsciously convince themselves they can do life without other believers. These people are very deceived and secretly full of pride. They haven’t realized yet that one great source of muscle-building is being in community with fellow weight-bearers (see Gal. 6:1-3). They haven’t yet learned how important it is to be taught the Word of God in the context of their spiritual family. These people do not have a bright future, spiritually-speaking. That’s one reason why their marriages fail and their families disintegrate. It’s why they can never seem to make progress in their lives. Doing it alone, they sadly have no idea how great life could be if they let God work His mighty strength through them and through His body. They don’t know that even in their weakness, they could experience strength (2 Cor. 12:9) Instead, they get “stuck”, bogged down in a life where their biggest goal is merely to survive and “get by”.

Paul-Anderson

Living here on Planet Earth can be carefree at times. It can also be heavy and burdensome. But whatever life sets before you – light or heavy – He wants you to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph 6:10). Practicing that daily choice to trust Him won’t always be easy, but it is within your reach.

Even right now.

Cactus Christians

Ever wonder what people think about you? Sure you do. But you tell yourself it doesn’t really matter, right? I mean, who cares what people think? We tell ourselves, “It only matters what GOD thinks about me,” simultaneously affirming ourselves with an emotional pat on the back. Usually when you say something like that to yourself, you’re thinking about people who don’t treat you right, or who have an unflattering opinion of you. Some people just “don’t get” you. Others are stupid and clueless. (I see you nodding in agreement) After all, if you let what others think of you sink in, you’ll be so busy trying to please everybody that you’ll never really know who you are. So, yes, what God thinks about you actually is the only opinion that ultimately matters. 

But the question is, “What does God think about you?”

The answer is not as simple as you might think. We’re programmed to proclaimed “God loves me unconditionally!” and rightly so, and then we move on our merry way. But God also has other thoughts about you. He loves you just the way you are. That will never change. But He also loves you too much to let you stay that way. He doesn’t jut think about the “You” you are today, but He is actively planning the “You” you’ll be in 5 years if you keep faithfully following Him. He thinks about you growing. Changing. Becoming. Being better than you are now. Stronger. More mature. That’s because He’s not finished making you yet.

na- construction stat- body

Bottom Line: He wants you to be like His Son, so much so that He has ordained it from eternity past! (Romans 8:29). In reality, God thinks lots of thoughts about you. For example, He wants you to show amazing, unusual, countercultural love to His children – your brothers and sisters in Christ (John 13:35). He says this is even more important than feeding the hungry, serving in the community or caring for an orphan (Galatians 6:10). It’s a matter of priority. We begin with the family and move out with love in concentric circles from there (Matthew 22:37-39).

Being a loving person first means knowing you are deeply loved. It means you His love in you overflows to other believers.

Is that what others think about you?

Some “Christians” I know just don’t give love. It’s not one of the tools in their toolbox. They’re rough and “prickly”.

Gimme a Hug

Others are so insecure, they insulate themselves, preventing anyone from really getting close to them.

Insulated

These people are also difficult to spiritually hug.

It makes me wonder if they have ever truly experienced God’s love.

So what does God think of you? If we could interview Him, would He say you’re becoming a loving person?

After all, you can’t give away what you don’t have, right?