I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.Philippians 3:14 (NLT)
Perseverance. It’s a fancy word which means to push through the hard stuff in life. Those that make it through a certain period of trials in life are said to have persevered. There you go, a vocabulary lesson and daily devotional, all in one!
I’ve recently added a component to my daily exercise routine. In addition to going for a run every morning, I’ve begun planking. For those who have no clue what that is, the basics of it are to get into a push-up position (toes down, knees up, arms planted) and hold your body as straight as possible (like a plank) for a certain period of time. The idea is to hold it for a relatively short period of time as one introduces it into the workout, then gradually increase how long you hold it as your body gets used to it over time. It sounds easy. It’s not particularly simple. I’ve been doing one-minute planks. I can tell you, for the first 30 seconds, it’s not too bad. By about 40 seconds, I can definitely feel my abs and my back starting to twitch. At the 50 second mark, my core muscles are starting to make noise. At the one-minute mark, I collapse as my muscles sing a chorus of “Hallelujah!” because they can take a break. The concept of planking is to persevere through the twitching, burning, and sweating. The ultimate goal is to have strengthened core muscles (abs, obliques, back, shoulders, glutes, etc.) which result in better posture and better tone in the mid-section.
I have friends that tell me to focus on the goal, not the day-to-day pain of the process. Focusing on the goal will get you there. Focusing on the strain and the pain will cause you to quit. Indeed, as all gym owners will tell you, most people who purchase a gym membership quit going within the first year because it’s hard and they don’t see immediate results.
This attitude can often times creep into our faith life. Just because we’ve got Jesus by our side doesn’t mean life won’t be hard. We are sinners living in a sinful world. Perfection returns at the Second Coming. That’s why Paul has this advice for us, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” In other words, look at the goal that awaits, not the trials that take place right now.