“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
I was listening to an interview today of two scientist who were studying the effects of space travel on the human body. One of the side effects attributed to the weightless environment of space is the loss of both bone density and muscle mass. It seems the simple explanation for this is that both the growth and sustaining of bone density and muscle mass need the resistance supplied by gravitational force. Since the planet on which we live exerts gravity, there is always an adequate supply of healthy resistance. I guess climbing the stairs in my home is not such a bad thing after all.
I feel at times that my life would be much happier and successful if everything happened with ease. I tend to plan in such a way as to avoid those routes that are slowest or difficult. For instance when I drive my car, I want to take the shortest, quickest and most efficient route to my destination. I’m not sure anyone I know chooses intentionally a path that will offer the most obstacles. In this regard, traffic and road hazards are a real let down.
This is the way I tend to approach life in general. I look for path of least resistance and if possible take that path. But in doing so I may be missing something valuable for my transformation. If all I am doing is trying to avoid any sort of struggle and resistance in life I may not experience the deep transformation that resistance and struggle offer.
In the spiritual life and journey with Jesus it seems personal transformation is His goal for me. To accomplish this task Jesus uses the circumstances of my life, both comfortable and uncomfortable. Though comfortable circumstances are enjoyable and have particular lessons to observe, the uncomfortable circumstances I find to be far more shaping to my life. There is something to be said for straining against the resistance of life to further deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul said it this way in Philippians 3, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” Both the words “strain” and “press” that the apostle Paul uses here involve intense effort and expenditure of energy. It is as if Paul were telling his readers to push through the circumstantial resistance of life, whatever it is, and continue to pursue Jesus in all situations. Resistance provides the opportunity for the further deepening of our lives and expanding of our faith.
The way of Jesus follows the path of resistance and suffering to arrive at the place of resurrection and glory. It is not an easy or necessarily comfortable path. But it is the path that purifies our faith and deepens our dependence on God to sustain us. A spiritual life lived constantly attempting to avoid any form of resistance is liable to lose both density and mass. Those that have no real spiritual density and mass to their lives are like shadows of true reality. The life with no resistance is prone to shrink and disintegrate rather than grow more substantial and whole. Though it may seem contrary to our natural inclination resistance and struggle are valuable to our spiritual growth and transformation into Christ-likeness.
So when you encounter resistance in your life, don’t try to find another path to follow but instead continue in the path of Jesus. He knows the way best suited to your growth and transformation. He knows the value of resistance in shaping your soul. May this song further assist you in your training regimen.