@robertkwendt || lead pastor
Every time I've watched the show American Ninja Warrior, I'm amazed at what the men and women who compete can accomplish. It's as if they are able to conquer obstacles that are seemingly impossible in record time. While some do not complete the course, several do. They show their grit, stamina, strength, and ability to do near-miraculous feats.
However, I think it is safe to say none of them conquer the course without ever preparing. There are thousands of hours that must go into preparing to do these amazing tasks.
Like in American Ninja Warrior, we have obstacles that come up in our lives all the time. They may be physical obstacles, but they may also be emotional, spiritual, or mental. They are events, instances, and moments that bring anxiety to us as we wonder how we will ever overcome them. From a sudden loss or separation to a draining emotional day, these obstacles can be seemingly unexpected. When they come, they are overwhelming.
In order to conquer them, we must prepare by putting in the tough work of training. Here are some things we can learn from the Bible about how to train and how to look to God as our ultimate trainer.
1. training is best with a trainer.
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all." Hebrews 12:7-8 NLT
The word for "discipline" above can also be replaced with the word "training." In fact, when we think of discipline we may think of a scolding, ruthless ruler. However, that's far from the case. Over and over in the passage, there is a comparison made to a parent—one that disciplines out of love. A parent who loves their child so much that they'll do the tough task of disciplining the child so he or she may be trained.
When a parent disciplines a child for running into the road, it's not out of a place of disgust or embarrassment. Rather, it's with a heart of wanting what is best for the child. The parent wants him or her to learn and grow.
This is how God treats His children. He wants to train them, so that they may be able to overcome the challenges they will have to face.
When we view God as a trainer, it changes our view of His discipline. However, here is the key point:
If we do not have a relationship with God, then we are not able to be trained by Him.
We can train on our own. I've tried it. A few pushups here, a jog now and then, a trip to the gym or two. We can workout physically on our own. In the same way, we can teach ourselves a lot of things through YouTube, the internet, or even by what we read. However, when we do things on our own, it's not nearly the same as when we do them with a trainer or a teacher. Everything changes when we have an expert walking alongside us.
That is why training is best with a trainer.
2. the more we trust our trainer, the harder we will train.
Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?" Hebrews 12:9 NLT
The writer of Hebrews makes to an interesting point: the audience trusted their earthly fathers. They submitted to their training and took it seriously.
Often I find that our relationship with our earthly fathers can impact our response in how we submit to God. A good relationship with an earthly father can make it easier to trust God. A tense or wounded relationship with our dad can make having trust in God more difficult.
However, we must be challenged to set the relationship status we have with our earthly dads to the side in order to fully embrace a relationship with God. Why? Because God is not like any earthly dad; He is set apart. The Bible reminds us over and over again that we can trust in God. That He loves us. In fact, He has sacrificed everything just to have a relationship with us. Our relationship with our earthly fathers is not even comparable. That's why we need to set aside any predisposed bias and give God a shot. When we let Him train us, we're being trained by the best of the best.
When we trust and believe that God is the best, then we're willing to put in the work He challenges us to do. Start training hard.
3. training hurts.
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Hebrews 12:10-11 NLT
Training is not meant to be easy. It's painful.
I think of the times that I've gone for a run or lifted weights for the first time in a while. Even after doing just a few pushups, my body will hurt and ache for days. Why? Because I put it through training. I pushed my body and made it do things it was not used to. In the end, I get bigger muscles and better results, but the process requires me to break down the muscle fibers. It means I have to tear down in order to build up.
As working out tears down muscle fibers, so too will training bring us pain. It will push us; but in the end we know something better awaits. The pain isn't for nothing.
4. training leads to change.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord." Hebrews 12:12-14 NLT
Training is not meant to leave us the same. If so, why would we even go through it? It's meant to lead us to change.
God wants us to be more like Him. He wants us to strive to live holier and holier lives. Will we mess up? Of course we will. Yet we shouldn't let that leave us complacent and lazy. Instead, we should be motivated to be better each and every day.
I once had a coach of mine who said the goal was to look at each day and say, "I will be better today than I was yesterday." Instead of focusing on the end of the season goals, he was focused on the day-to-day goals. He knew that if we got better each day, then we would be even better at the end of the season.
Our faith journey is much the same. We should strive to be better each day. In doing so, we are able to push through the necessary training knowing that in the end we will be stronger because of it.
Think about an obstacle that lies in your way. Does it seem impossible to conquer? It may seem impossible now, but start training. Let God work on you. Then look at the obstacle again. My guess is that it won't be nearly as intimidating.
|| challenge ||
When faced with an obstacle ask: What is God telling me? How is He training me to conquer this overwhelming task?