Forty four. September 20, 2017. It was at that age and on that date that I realized what I’ve known for a while. I am not getting any younger! This birthday thing is real and the more you have the older you get. Now, of course, I knew this, but I think it is so subtle that we don’t always live like this is true. Some reason, for me, this year it clicked. I took a physical look in the mirror and realized that I might be a tad out of shape. I mean, I was a definite shape, but not the shape I should be.
So I determined in my head and in my heart to change my shape. With the help of a friend, I began to eat right and then I stepped out and began to walk and exercise.
The results have been steady and encouraging. Now, I have to admit, that in the beginning it was much more difficult because I was the only one who knew I was losing weight and walking this journey. The more I have lost, though, the more people have noticed and the more they notice, the more it makes me want to continue.
ENTER THE HOLIDAYS. It is tough to stay on a plan of right eating during the holidays especially in the South and especially with a vacation smack dab in the middle. For the most part I have persevered. Oh sure, I have stepped out and over eaten a few times and had the best BBQ sandwich of my life while on vacation
(see pic), but all in all I have tried to stay the course.
The other day I began to think about this physical journey that I am on and the determination and discipline that it takes and even the pitfalls that have to be avoided and the Lord reminded me that my spiritual journey is very similar to this.
Jesus does all the work in salvation, once I accept that gift of salvation and new life, I then begin a journey of growth, obedience and transformation to look like Him as much as I can with the life that I live. Paul said it this way in Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…”
You see, God’s plan for us once we receive salvation is to be conformed into an image that ultimately looks like Jesus so that we can bring glory to Him in our lives.
While are salvation depends solely on Christ, our transformation is a process that requires us to be actively engaged on purpose.
It takes DETERMINATION.
Jesus said to those that were following Him, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross DAILY and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
To follow Christ and become more like Him, you must resolve that you are going to do it. You are going to say “yes” to Him and “no” to yourself. We often talk like that is easy, but it is not. Denying myself Johnny’s pizza in my physical journey is one of the most difficult things that I do, but I have to wake up every day and decide that I am not going to eat it. That desire doesn’t really go away. I have to be determined to beat it!
Same with following Christ. We still live in this old flesh that wants us to satisfy it first and we have to be determined that we are going to deny ourselves and walk in obedience to Jesus.
That determination will blossom into DISCIPLINE the more we deny ourselves, the more we will do the things that are part of our active transformation. We must develop habits in our daily life that contribute to our transformation. Spending time in God’s Word, prayer, fasting, fellowship with other believers… These things don’t necessarily come natural to us at first, but the more we do them the more they will become part of who we are and they will contribute to our transformation. Cardiovascular exercise, strength training, eating the right portions…these all contribute to the transformation of the physical and the spiritual needs those habits in place as well. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and compared the physical with the spiritual. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever…I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:25, 27)
This just scratches the surface of what it takes to do our part in allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Jesus, but, for me, it is a good reminder that while the work of my salvation is not up to me (Jesus did that work), the work of my transformation and conformation to Christ’s image depends largely on my determination and discipline to obey and lean on the Holy Spirit to help me grow and “get into shape.”