Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Upward Call

Submitted by Jim Garner

Recently I began working out with Craig Cornish, one of our North Side members and youth workers in high school ministry.  His is a trainer in the Camp Gladiator program with a goal of positively impacting physical fitness with a boot camp style approach. 

For a few weeks he had been talking to me about coming out to a group and trying a workout.  My first thoughts were “NO WAY!  I’m too old for this and my body will break.”  But I just listened to him and his encouragement to try it.  There were no expectations.  He told me to just do a workout at my own pace and then we could talk more. 

I listened politely but internally I was already scheming multiple excuses to why I would not join his Camp Gladiator group, even if it was a free tryout.  And I thought they were pretty good reasons (excuses) such as:

                        I’m too busy.                                   The schedule doesn’t work for me.

                        I’m too old.                                       I’m out of shape and will be embarrassed.

                        I don’t feel good.                            I need to walk before I run.

I feel they were all legitimate excuses and with a target date to attend he had given me, I did continue to consider it but just kept finding more excuses to add to my list.  I even rationalized as that commitment date neared.  “Craig didn’t remind me at church today, the day before I am supped to try it in the morning.  I’m out of the woods now.”  Although that need to exercise with an organized plan and leader kept gnawing at me, I finally went to bed on that fateful Sunday night thinking I was home free.  So when I woke up Monday morning, I had a peace of mind (and body) thinking I was getting away with something. 

And then as I stood over the sink brushing my teeth I received a text message.  And on it was a reminder from Craig, my friend and trainer, kindly encouraging me with a “Hope to see you out there this morning.”  I said to myself, “Uggh!  Are you kidding me?  I thought I was home free.”  Yes, I wanted the gain, but I didn’t want all the pain to go along with it.  But to be honest, I know I needed to go and deep inside I felt that extra little push with my inner spirit telling me to go for it.  No excuses!  Just do it!  I couldn’t avoid it anymore.  Yes, my flesh was telling me not to do it, but my spirit was telling me I needed to go work out and try to get back in shape for lots of good reasons. 

So I did go that Monday morning and to be honest, I’m so glad I did.  Yes, it has been quite a challenge.  I still have those excuses in my mind and plenty of pain in my body.  But it’s a good pain and getting a little easier to recover as I seek the gain that I know is coming. 

I’m thankful to have had a friend like Craig who encouraged and supported me to give it a try.  He didn’t guilt me.  He was there as my Christian brother knowing this would benefit and bless me to push on in health for my ministry and family. 

This act of accountability is not only important when it comes to physical training or positive things in life with earthly values. It also has great significance in terms of spiritual and eternal values.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

We all need these types of relationships in our lives. As brother and sisters in Christ it should be easier for us because we are called to this level of commitment for one another. These traits are filled with love, encouragement, support in the midst of challenge, and a balanced and realistic understanding of “pain and gain”.

Physically, I received it in terms of the encouragement to make myself healthier from a friend. But spiritually, I received a spiritual lesson from Craig and have been blessed through my life with so many other Christian brothers and sisters who have been spiritual mentors/leaders to my ministry and me over the past several decades of spiritual discipleship.

My prayer is that we never take for granted this vital act of discipleship and accountability, and continue to seek to do the same for others whether it be meeting an earthly need or a spiritual challenge that is being faced.

I’ll be real here, there are days when Craig is giving our training group instructions and exercises that I’m not feeling like he’s my friend and I might even have a few negative thoughts about him. But I know I’m wrong and I keep pressing on. It’s a physical and spiritual lesson, and I’m glad to have both.

Scripture to Claim:
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:14

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