During a bike event planning meeting, I caught myself becoming irritated with the avoidance of physically challenging sections while mapping out the route. The planning committee considered and reconsidered sections of the route, careful to keep it safe and manageable for all levels of riders. While I appreciated their concerns, I could not help but think, “When riders decide to participate, they must understand this is a physically challenging event. They need to quit whining, dig deep, train hard and push through. That hill we’re all trying to avoid first thing in the morning; well…BRING IT ON!”
But I don’t have that attitude when it comes to my spiritual training. O no! I like hearing “easy and light” but I don’t like to hear “burden” or “trial.” I find myself avoiding anything spiritually challenging. I am very concerned about keeping my spiritual route clear of pot holes, construction on the road, steep hills or treacherous descents. I do not tell myself: “When you said you’d pick up your cross to follow HIM, you knew it wouldn’t always be easy. When you first fell in love with Him you said HIS way was better than your way. Is this too tough for you? Well, quit your whining, get on your knees, pray for strength, then get up and push through!” Nope. I tell myself quite the opposite.
James 1:2–4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I’m positive the riders participating in the event will not count it “all joy” when they meet the hill at Torrey Pines. But we as Christians are exhorted to count our insurmountable trials as joy. This is our spiritual boot camp, training us, equipping us, making us complete that we may lack nothing in our spiritual character. While I know it’s hard to say to yourself: “Bring it on!” Remember, that bike rider huffing and puffing his or her way up the hill employs their own physical strength to conquer it. We, against our spiritual mountain climb, employ a power much greater; the power of the Holy Spirit. He is our trainer, encouraging and comforting, teaching and exhorting, chastening and refining, all to create in us His character, for His glory and our ultimate reward.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.