Tuesday, February 16, 2010
By Brenda Black
Think tough! What comes to mind? Steel workers climbing 10 stories into the air, wielding hammers and torches, or a stocky bull rider who gets back up after a hundred slams into arena dirt? Tough can be rough. Maybe your idea of tough is kick boxing agility. Tough may be athletic and lean. And if your image of tough looks more like punks in a street gang, then tough can be mean. I'm not tough it seems.
I'd like to think I can go toe to toe with any physical challenge. The truth of the matter is I run out of steam a whole lot sooner than later. Frankly, I have less to prove when it comes to raw strength and that suits me quite well. It keeps me from heaving cumbersome bales of hay and hauling heavy buckets of water. Well, at least I am licensed to move a little slower. But I'm not tough if it gets rough.
I've noticed my weakness in multiple muscle groups these past several weeks while attempting to exercise. If I call on the abs or back or legs, all they want to do is quiver. But I keep pressing on with the hopes that pushing my body into submission will one day render it stronger. It's going to take a long time I'm afraid before I feel athletic and lean. So far, I am m not a lean, mean fightin' machine.
So I'd rather reason with an enemy than fist fight any old day of the week. I think good manners can alleviate all sort of matters. And if it comes to beating someone into submission in order to elevate myself in power, it's probably not going to happen. So there isn't a chance that tough on me looks mean.
On the other hand, I work at staying tough mentally and I can be pretty mean to me to keep the old noodle agile and lean. I hate forgetting names and numbers or where I parked the car. I push myself to solve puzzles, unscramble words, learn new terminology or master graphics software. And, for the record, I was the only one to solve a young man's mathematical riddle at church last Sunday. Whew! That made my day to outwit the masses of agile teens struggling for the answer.
All these strenuous exercises and the constant challenges to both body and brain cells are meant to strengthen and sharpen. But when it comes to answering some of life's toughest questions, one more area in our lives needs a little training – the spirit. No big bicep will help you wrestle with sin. It takes more than common sense or quick thinking to improve a prayer life. Weights won't prepare you to walk in Christ and jogging can't make you a generous soul.
Just as the body and brain need tough training, so does the part of us that is eternal. Conditioning our hearts to beat in rhythm to God's pattern for right living begins with surrendering it to the Lord Himself. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
As we soften our soul to be pliable in God's hands, we strengthen our stand. When the Lord spoke to the house of David, He warned: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)
I want to walk and not grow weary, run and not faint. I want to soar like an eagle and be bold and strong for Christ! I want to commit to memory the things that matter most like pearls of wisdom from God's Holy Word. And I want to toughen my faith to be bullet proof and purposeful.
How about you? When you think tough, does a man hanging on a cross and speaking forgiveness come to mind? Does a Heavenly King who humbled himself to an earthen vessel ring any bells? Jesus was tough enough to die for us. Can't we be strong enough to stand for him in this rough old world? Let's get busy training our bodies, minds and souls to go to work for the Lord!