Column: Building our faith day by day
Published 2:23 pm Monday, June 5, 2023
By Pastor Jason Green | Mineral Springs Baptist Church
I parked the other day near a gym – one of those 24 hour a day, 7-days-a-week places. As I walked past the gym on the way to pick up a sandwich, I noticed a number of people standing around staring through a window into the facility. They tried hard not to be noticeable. It didn’t work.
I laughed to myself, assuming there was a lovely young woman or strapping young lad (or a combination thereof) working out. I wasn’t wrong. It was a guy, and he was, for lack of a better description, a monster. His biceps were as large as my waist. I believe his muscles had muscles. The veins in his upper body bulged; they looked like drinking straws that had been placed beneath the surface of his skin. This guy was straight out of a world’s strongest man, or Mr. Olympia competition. Quite an impressive sight to be sure.
I started wondering how long it took for him to get to that point. I also wondered if anything “extra” had been required to get him to his particular state of ripped.
That same day I had a conversation with someone who is a younger Christian. They were struggling with a couple of decisions they had made, and how they felt they’d really failed in making the right choice. They indicated it was a very public display of poor decision making, and were concerned that it had done their public testimony harm. The failure had certainly harmed their own self impression. The person wondered aloud whether or not they would ever get to a point of spiritual maturity. The real question was simple: As hard as it is, is it possible to get there, and if you get there, how to stay in that place of maturity? Then I thought about the guy at the gym. He obviously didn’t begin his body-building journey as what he had become. This physical monster of a man must have spent decades dedicating every area his life to the transformation. He had to start somewhere, probably as a skinny kid that couldn’t lift much or endure much. But as he continued through the process, undeterred, he began seeing gains. There were days of punishing his body. There were days he didn’t feel like keeping up. But he started something he felt was of great value, and continued on even though there were setbacks, pain, unanswered questions and periods where he felt like he was going backwards instead of moving forward.
That’s what our faith is like. We don’t start out as spiritual giants. We don’t begin with a deep knowledge and understanding of scripture. We don’t begin our walks with Christ with the ability to hear from the Master and discern what we hear or perceive. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes being committed to the five fundamentals of a growing faith: scripture, prayer, worship, fellowship and service. It requires us to see a bigger picture and take on a “do it right now for down the road” mentality. I have whom I consider to be champions of the faith in my life. Those men, and women, who I watch in amazement as they live out their faith, not flamboyantly, but just in the midst of the daily grind. Their stories, with different details and timing, are the same…great effort is required, great confidence in the process is required, and great commitment is required to know and understand the Lord better. It would be nice to flex my biceps and break windows three doors down. But in my life, the most valuable thing I’ve found is the abiding hope that comes from a growing spiritual strength. I’ve not arrived where I want to be. I’m nowhere near perfect and never will be this side of heaven. However, with the goal of being a little better than I was the day before, maybe I can be pleasing to my heavenly father. No, I’ll never have folks gathered around me in amazement. But I will have someone watch my life…and if they can see Jesus in it…that’s a pretty good flex.