One of my hobbies is doing triathlons. I have typically trained quite intensely for these races, but this year I had a little more laissez faire attitude towards practicing. Not only did I not put enough effort into training, but my nutritional discipline was a little more lax (I’m blaming you Jaarsma Bakery!). So it was that I found myself experiencing the dreaded fringale, a fancy French term meaning hitting the wall and having said wall crush you into oblivion. Fortunately, my brain was still functioning well enough to think through the situation. I stopped for about 30 seconds, sucked down an energy gel, took a few breathes, collected my thoughts, and went on my way. Amazingly, within a few minutes I was back to normal, and actually finished with nearly the same time as the year before. Here’s a few ways I saw this experience paralleling life.
- When we’re not prepared, we pay the price. When we choose to live disconnected from God, living according to the world and not the Word, we tend to hit the wall. This is not necessarily because God is punishing us, but a byproduct of choosing to live life incorrectly. Like a triathlon, life is difficult and challenging, and we can’t expect to just wake-up each day and have everything go smoothly. We need to prepare by studying the Word, engaging in prayer, surrounded ourselves with mentors, and constantly following God’s lead.
- When things are not going right we have to hit pause. I think many of the biggest mistakes we make occur because we try to quickly fix our problems. We lie to cover up mistakes, use drugs and alcohol to drown out difficulties, and relegate God to the sidelines. Instead of recklessly “soldiering on” we need to hit pause, taking our strength and direction from God. I love how the Message version translates Matthew 11:28-29: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Remember back to my triathlon story. I may have stopped for a minute to recharge, but had I not I probably could not have finished. Sometimes we simply need to stop and be recharged by God. We pause to pray, read God’s Word, and seek advice from Christian friends. That 5-10 minute break with God will likely end up vastly improving your week.
- We grow in our faith so we are ready when things don’t go right. I survived that race because I had prepared for a bad situation. I firmly believe one of the most important things we can do to be prepared for difficulty is to memorize scripture. We memorize scripture not to impress others or to fulfill some duty, but so that when we hit the wall we can bring God’s Word out of our memory banks. There have been so many difficult times in ministry where I’ve had to take a breathe and remember Philippians 4:13: I can do all things THROUGH Christ who gives me strength.