Today, I went to my first ever one-on-one gym training, and could barely make it through – I was so utterly exhausted by the end of it, but (now) am happy I did it. During the session, told the instructor, “You know what’s weird? I go to the gym a lot, but my arms are never sore.” She laughed and replied, “That’s probably because you’re not doing anything.”
It’s actually quite sad to spend hours on something without actually getting better and without doing something that pushes your body. I think this applies spiritually too.
You could go to church and read the bible every day, which definitely helps, but if you’re not out of your comfort zone – doing something challenging spiritually – there is no way your spiritual muscles can grow. And without growth, you just maintain your current existence (or move backwards, since in God, if you are not going forwards, you’re probably going backwards).
This applies to so many different things, including:
1. Prayer life: I used to pray for just a short amount of time (inconsistently), a few minutes here and there. I only realized how useless that was (for me) when I joined a Bible study and started praying every day, which was difficult and which required effort.
2. Listening to the Holy Spirit: I realized it’s so easy to do what God tells you to do when you agree with it or understand it. What challenges you more is when you don’t agree or see the bigger picture (aka when you are not comfortable) and you still follow His instructions.
The above two are merely examples that serve to highlight that being in our comfort zone is not what grows us. Being challenged is. Just like we grow to see the value in and appreciate muscle soreness after a workout, we can grow to appreciate the soreness and discomfort that comes with following God in ways that are challenging. Not only does the resistance ultimately heighten the satisfaction and highlight any growth – it’s also critical to our survival. If we are not challenged to stretch and push our muscles in our daily walks, when the actual “weight” of life comes down on us (the tough situations, the battles, the desert), we won’t be ready or in as good of a place as we could’ve been.
Most importantly, we don’t have to workout alone or by our own strength. As Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”