This year has held some changes for me (and my hubbie), one of which is our journey to physical health and fitness. We have not “arrived” at the fitness destination by any means, but we have both lost weight and established healthy eating and exercise habits. For me, it has been about 11 months since I fully committed to this emotionally, physically and mentally. It has been absolutely life changing. I will write more about all that in a different blog.
What worked best for me this year was to do a DVD at home while my little girl napped every morning. I chose one by Jillian Michaels, and after 11 months I completely have that thing memorized. Sometimes I get frustrated because I can hear Jillian in my head…and I don’t know if I can ever get her out! At one point, she starts off an exercise for abs by saying, “Now this is NOT easy. But it IS effective, and that’s why you’re GOING to DO IT!!” And so I do it. Because I’m kind of scared that somehow she will know if I don’t. And she’s not joking. It’s very difficult. Very.
Tonight, out of the blue, I thought of that quote while putting my children to bed. I was wishing it wasn’t Jillian’s voice echoing through my mind, when all of a sudden I realized it’s not just a Jillian-motivational-thing. It’s truly a Christian-walk kind of thing. Being a Christ-Follower is not supposed to be easy. What’s easy about Jesus saying in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”? Or in Matt. 10:22 Christ promises “…you will be hated by all for My name’s sake”. Um, that is not easy any way you try to look at it.
I’m learning that effectiveness is equal to difficulty. It is that way in the exercise world. A few jumping jacks here and there doesn’t accomplish a whole lot. But running uphill pushing two children in a stroller over a grass field for an hour in the summer heat at over 5000 feet….now that is difficult and effective. The weight falls off and the muscles build up. And man oh man do you sleep well at night!! Not to mention the amount of buttered popcorn you can enjoy guilt-free!!
That principle of difficulty = effectiveness applies to our Christian life as well. Big time. In fact, Mark 8:35 states, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Talk about difficult. Talk about effective.
I want to be effective. I want to give God glory. I want to live a lifestyle that communicates the gospel, the good news of His incredible love and grace, that I totally don’t deserve, but willingly receive. Obviously this is something I will never “arrive” at, just like I will never “arrive” at being completely fit and in shape. However, here are a few ways we can embrace something extremely difficult, knowing it will be unbelievably effective:
- Humility and Meekness. Our hearts can be, and should be, in a posture of humility and meekness. So many definitions to these words…but in simple terms: Let’s realize the immense loving miracle of a Holy God providing a way for sinful people to be in relationship with Him for all eternity…by humbling Himself. Not something we deserve. At all. So let’s follow His lead. NOT EASY to let go of pride. NOT EASY to retrain our worldview of entitlements and rights. NOT EASY to give up self-preservation and selfishness. NOT EASY to get over ourselves. But oh if we do….the things we can do without because we realize our treasure is in Heaven, not on earth. The places we can go and the people we can love because our heart is full of others instead of full of ourselves.
- Serving. This is another posture of the heart. It’s not busy-ness. Or religiosity. Or always saying yes if asked to do something for someone. Those things aren’t especially difficult. The kind of serving I’m referring to is found in Matt. 5:44. Jesus taught in this passage that we are to love our enemies, bless folks who curse us, do good to people who hate us, and to pray for ones who use and persecute us. I would put that kind of serving in the extreme difficulty levels. These are things we cannot do without the Holy Spirit’s enabling. I do not run 6 miles unless I know I’m properly hydrated…and I would not attempt this kind of service unless I had spent time in prayer asking for living water to flow from my life to the life of the one who hates me…as I serve them. Practically. Consistently. With humility and meekness. It is a good thing to seek the Lord about this, and actively pursue serving and loving those who hate us. I think even Jillian would agree that this is quite effective when done right.
I was going to come up with a few more, but seriously. Isn’t that enough? Those two have me so convicted and yet motivated…I’m not sure I could handle more.
I’m asking the Lord to change my heart daily, and help me to be in this posture of humility, meekness and serving. Will you join me?? I’d love to hear your feedback if you’d like to comment about how you are choosing humility and meekness, or who you are serving and how you are doing it. We can walk this difficult, yet effective road together. It’s not easy, but it is effective. And that’s why we’re going to do it!! Let’s live effective lives that give God the glory He deserves.