Discipline leads to Fruit
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.’
Training for a marathon requires running a gruelling 387 miles over an 18 week period. rain, snow, sleet, hail, sleepy, hungry, depressed, upset, stressed, whatever your problem is these miles must be run for optimum performance. It is a process by which the body is being conditioned, broke down and rebuilt to be able to withstand a 26.2 mile race.
Yesterday, when I was running the marathon I allowed my mind to wonder about this weeks blog. I hadn’t slept well the previous two nights One night I attended a retreat that required the attendants to sleep dormitory style, (NO WAY TO SLEEP). The second night, the people had an extremely loud generator running, ALL NIGHT LONG.
I prayed throughout the race (more than usual) each time I began to feel fatigue. The best way for me to complete this race was to break down the remaining distance mentally and compare it to a training run. For example, at mile 16, I said to myself “Ok, 10 miles left that’s like running to the bridge and back, no problem.”
I praise God, for His grace to allow me to complete my third marathon, injury free.
There are certain characteristics about a marathon race that is similar to our spiritual journey.
1. Running is a challenging sport that requires the development of a variety of physical and mental traits. Christians are being developed spiritually and mentally. In its purist form Christianity is a challenging yet fulfilling and rewarding faith. It requires the believer to live a sanctified and holy life. This is a gradual process for the believer is being saved from the habit and dominion of sin. As the believer matures in Christ his life resembles Christ.
2. Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a sports psychologist and an elite athlete in her own right, studied the emotional characteristics of serious runners and drew several interesting conclusions. Dahlkoetter found that successful runners demonstrate extraordinary mental toughness including strong vision, focus and resilience. God’s ultimate desire for us is that we be whole and complete lacking in nothing.
3. Most runners while running a marathon hit a time during the race called ” Hitting the Wall.”In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity.
In our Christian walk we encounter crisis of faith. “Crisis of faith” is a term commonly applied to periods of intense doubt and internal conflict about one’s preconceived beliefs or life decisions. This doubt can be triggered by a single event, or it can build up as a general sense of dissatisfaction.
Some say, a ” crisis of faith” can also come from positive experiences. We learn new things, science makes new discoveries, we have epiphanies and understand life or love or our spirits in new ways that make the old nonsensical.
Whatever causes a crisis of faith, there is often emotional, intellectual, spiritual turbulence along the way.
In “Hitting the Wall,”runners begin to slow down…and eventually walk. If you continue to walk the bones stiffen causing you to be unable to continue running but only walking to the finish line.
In our faith, we also drift into the crisis of faith. It can begin with not praying as often, decreased time of bible study, living on a diet of secularist music and movies, (less wholesome movies?)
If a crisis of faith is not properly dealt with we have what is called in Christianity as “falling away” from the faith.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSIONS:
1. is it possible to prevent a “crisis of faith” from occurring in one’s spiritual journey?
2. How do we halt or interrupt a path that is leading to a crisis in faith?
3. What are the identifiers that you have indeed entered a “crisis of faith?”
4. It is said that sometimes the crisis of faith can be the best thing that can happen to a person because it increases faith and endurance. Do you agree or disagree?