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The Only Way to Get Stronger


The Only Way to Get Stronger

Like a lot of us, I’ve been challenged to keep up my workout routine because of the pandemic quarantine. I used to be a regular at my local gym, but when the governor issued his stay at home order, I lost my focus on my workouts. Sure, I still walked through the neighborhood, but let’s face it, you don’t push yourself as hard when you’re working out by yourself. You don’t watch your diet as you should when you know you aren’t going to have to weigh in while someone else writes down the results.

So, a few weeks ago I got back to the gym. A few days ago, I started working out with a trainer.

That was a mistake.

For one thing, trainers are obsessed with numbers. How much do you weigh? How much protein do you eat? How much water do you drink? What’s your BMI? Your max O2?

I just want to get in a few laps, sweat a little bit, and go home.

But no, we’re going to do 3 sets of squats – first without weights and then, with weights. Now, we’re going to do a series of presses — chest press, shoulder press and leg press. Each exercise will be done ten times, and each time, the trainer will add weight.

That’s right. They ADD weight. Just when l would get comfortable doing an exercise using a certain weight level, the trainer adds more weight. Every time I try to relax, my trainer adds more weight, extends time on the treadmill, or increases the ramp angle on the treadmill. In general, my trainer seems to be determined to make my life harder.

I want my life easier. They want my life harder. Why? Because they want me stronger, and the only way to get stronger is to add more weight. The only way to get better is to increase the resistance or extend the distance. If you want to get stronger, you have to work harder.

There are no shortcuts.

And just like there are no shortcuts in the gym, there are no shortcuts following Christ either. For some reason, we wrongly assume once we start following Christ, our lives will be problem free. We’ll never have to look for another parking space at the grocery store. They will just magically appear in front of us. We’ll never lose our jobs, money problems will disappear and our lives will be filled with rainbows.

But it’s not that way. Let’s be honest. Following Christ doesn’t make our lives easier. Being a disciple makes our lives harder. Why? Because Jesus wants you and me to become stronger, and the only way to get stronger is to add more weight to your work.

Do you remember the parable of the talents? The one who had five was rewarded with five more. The one with two was rewarded with two more. In fact, the one who had ten ended up picking up the one from the servant who didn’t do anything. He had a total of eleven!

Have you ever thought that he might not have wanted all of these talents? For all we know, he could have been saying to Jesus, “Lord, I have more than enough.” Now, he goes from 5 to 11. He doubled the five. The expectation is he will double the 11.

That’s a lot of work. Life didn’t get easier because of this servant’s success. It got harder.

The reward for good work is more work.

All of us admire the faith of Elijah to call down fire from heaven. What we overlook is the miracle of the widow’s jar of oil in the chapters before. Elijah’s faith in a small moment is rewarded by a challenge to his faith we still talk about all of these years later.

David reported to Saul how God had helped him kill the lions and the bears, and with that, David had the confidence to defeat Goliath. No one kills giants on the first day. You have to work up to that.

The disciples were sent out two by two with Jesus before Jesus sent them out with the Great Commission. Great acts of faith are always preceded by little acts of faith.

The great adventures of Christ always begins with small steps of obedience. This is why we can never overlook the small miracle in front of us. Every small miracle leads to a bigger miracle.

So, start where you are, but be ready. Jesus wants you stronger. He’s going to add more weight.

This article originally appeared here.

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Dr. Mike Glenn is the Senior Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. Under his leadership since 1991, the church has grown to a church with eight campuses and a membership of over 11,000. He graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Mike has written three books - In Real Time, The Gospel of Yes and Coffee with Mom - and writes a weekly blog for ChristianityToday.com. Mike is married to Jeannie, his wife and best friend of 40 years. They have twin sons, Chris (Deb) and Craig (Nan); three granddaughters, Mackenzie, Rowen and Brooklynn; and one grandson, Walker.