Saturday I drove past a fitness center in Virginia Beach. The name of the establishment was: "Face the Pain; private gym experience". This dramatic title was posted on a typical sign over the door of a strip mall location, facing Virginia Beach Boulevard. I'm sure thousands of motorists see this every day. I thought about the tough reality anyone faces who wants to get into shape and maintain that condition. It's especially difficult to "face the pain" when you've been away from exercise for a while. There's the pain of anticipating the pain that inevitably accompanies a strenuous workout and then there's the pain that follows the exercise and then there's the pain of deciding whether to go back again to add to the pain. I suppose the only way the whole thing can work is through a high level of motivation. We get motivated to face the pain when we're tired of lugging extra pounds and we reach a point of desperation that leads to action. It seems there is a direct parallel in our inner lives, as well. We can ignore the Lord for a while and try to walk on our own...in our strength...defining our own direction, but invariably we will be disappointed. At some point, hopefully, we "bottom out" and choose to "face the pain" and come into the best "private gym experience" by inviting Jesus into our day. Then we'll finally have the kind of workout that will lead to things finally working out.
1 Timothy 4:6 (message version) Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.