Working out and Follwing Jesus – Part 3: Faith is like a muscle

June 23rd, 2009

My roommate and I just got done having a time of listening prayer together. We regularly sit in our living room and share prayer requests and then spend time praying for each other; but today we decided to try just listening together for whatever God might have to say.

I can’t say for sure where my mind led me was distinctly from God, or just related to things he’d been teaching me about, but I started pondering what I’d been reading lately, as well as a conversation I’d had just minutes before on the phone with another friend. I was telling him about Francis Chan quoting a professor who had once said, “what in your life right now requires faith?”

As I let the thought roll around in my mind, it struck me that maybe there’s not a lot right now in my life that requires faith. I tend to rely on the old faithfuls – like tithing and talking to people on the streets of Hollywood, or asking God to show up in big ways. Things that, at one point, really required a good amount of faith. When I truthfully thought about the question, I realized maybe those areas no longer require faith. I’ve gotten used to how much money I give away and it’s not much of a sacrifice, even as I increase my giving. Because God always provides. And going to Hollywood at midnight isn’t scary anymore, I’m used to it and really enjoy it. Yes, every night requires some kind of faith for God to do big things, but not like it used to.

Then it struck me that it fit perfectly with this physical-spiritual relationship I’ve been writing about. Faith is like a muscle. When you first start lifting weights, your muscles are sore, and your body responds quickly to the load you’re demanding of it to lift. It’s difficult, it challenges your whole body, and your muscles begin to grow as a result.
But it’s fairly common knowledge that after a while of doing a certain routine and working out your muscles the same way, they adapt to whatever load you’ve been putting on them and your body hits a plateau. Then it’s time to increase the reps, or the weight, or the routine so that your body has to readjust and will begin to change once again as you push through the plateau.

Faith seems to be the same for me. When I wrote my first $100 tithe check, it scared the crap out of me. I felt incredibly uncomfortable, but a week or so after I never worried about it again. I always had enough. And after a few months or so of that, I realized it wasn’t much of a sacrifice again, and I decided it was time to increase my giving in faith, out of the blessing God had given to me. And so has been the story of my tithing…getting comfortable with giving more than I originally thought I could, and seeing God provide. But it always gets easy and I have to re-challenge myself. Or when I started doing ministry in Hollywood – that was pretty scary, it definitely required faith to get myself down there. Now? Not so much. Trusting God to do big things still requires faith, but I’m not usually in fear of anything that requires me to leap in faith.

So I realized that there’s not much in my life requiring faith right now. There’s things I anticipate in my future requiring it. And yes, there’s some certain moments or decisions that require it (which I sometimes hold back from in fear, or keep a back-up plan just in case God decides not to show up). But I see that my faith has become like a muscle that’s adapted to its workout. What once was hard has become easy and even if I like to think I’m working hard and growing, the outward appearance proves me wrong.

It’s time to add some weight to my faith, cause it to grow and rebuild, and to see God to even bigger and better things. And I’m scared – oh yes, I’m scared. Because usually growth is painful. Making a muscle grow means that you’re actually creating minor tears in the muscle that cause growth has they heal. Faith can be scary and difficult, but the result is always worth the difficulty. Especially because we don’t just get a physical reward, but we come to know Christ and see his awesome power more and more each time.

How often to I look back on a workout and think “man, I wish I hadn’t worked so hard and tired myself out. I wish my body wasn’t getting stronger and healthier and better looking, it wasn’t worth the hard work”? Nope. It’s always worth it. Same with faith. When have I ever regretted stepping out in faith and trusting Christ and seeing him move? Never. Those are some of the greatest moments of my life. The only moments I regret are the workouts that I ‘dilly-dallied’ my way through (as my dad would say) and didn’t give my all. And the times I could have trusted God but didn’t, and as a result never got to see him in all of his might.

What are you doing in your life right now that requires faith?

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