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“If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult.”

Oswald Chambers

The other day God was encouraging me to choose what is difficult, to avoid the easy road and to push myself. God knows that in my flesh I’m lazy. I want things to come easy and not be difficult. I don’t typically look challenges in the eye and say, “Bring it on!” Hard work is not my knee-jerk response and I’m never thrilled about perseverance.

But if I got what I wanted, I would not grow or mature. And worse yet, if my life was easy, I wouldn’t know how powerful, faithful and good God is. My relationship with Him would be shallow, not deep and intimate.

Besides my natural inclination toward laziness, fear tries to set up roadblocks causing me to want to turn back. If I give in to my fear, then I would never get to see God show up.

Throughout my life, God has directed me to do things for Him that I would not normally choose to do because of timidity or desire for an easy life. If I had it my way, I would have never gone to Afghanistan while the Taliban was trying to take it over, nor run a marathon, or cycled the “Going to the Sun Road” in Glacier National Park. And I definitely would not be writing or speaking. If I had it my way and chose all the easy paths, never challenging myself in life, I would not know God as I do now. What a loss that would be. A life of ease only keeps God at a distance. I am so grateful God does not let me have my own way!

Butterflies have to beat their wings against the cocoon in order to become strong enough to fly. It’s their struggle that allows them to eventually fly.

Likewise with us, our struggles and challenges in life only cause us to grow and equip us to fly. Difficulties make us stronger and prepares us for God’s destiny just like they did for Joseph in the book of Genesis. He could not have become someone God or Pharaoh could trust without all the trials he faced and passed.

A few years back my Mom had shortness of breath as a result of aortic valve stenosis. She bravely chose to face the challenge of valve replacement surgery. In the end, her uphill climb with recovery gave her more energy and she discovered in greater depths God’s trustworthiness.

God challenges me to look for opportunities that cause me to press through my fears and natural tendencies for a life of ease. To be bold when I want to be timid. To persevere when I want to throw my arms up in the air and give up. To rise to the challenge when I want to slink back. For it’s in those times I see who God is. It’s in those times I catch a glimpse of who He’s creating me to be.

I need to push myself, not retrieve and not always be on the hunt for the path of least resistance. My current challenges are various writing assignments, the making of a ministry and building up my cycling muscles to tackle the Canadian Rockies in a month.

Being pushed or challenged in life boils down to an issue of trust. When I’m pushed, I need to decide who I will trust. Do I rely on my own strength to get me through the difficulty, or on God’s strength?

It’s up to you to choose challenges which will strengthen you and cause you to fly instead of a life of ease. Push yourself and reach for God’s destiny rather than simply limping along in life. Choose to run with perseverance the race marked out for you. (Hebrews 12:1)

“No one should devote one’s life to safety, to a course of action that offers no challenge and no fun.”

Tony Campolo

Relevant Reflections:

1. What is God’s current challenge for you which will prepare you for what He has next?

2. Will you choose to push yourself or sit back and relax in life?

3. What does trusting God look like in your present struggle?

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