Someone once said that if you look at your day and do the hardest things first, then the rest of the day will be a breeze. There may be something to that. After running a few miles outside in 12 degree darkness (but very clear and mostly still), nothing else that the day will bring should seem daunting in comparison. There is a sense of accomplishment that I feel from a run like this morning's that is greater than the accomplishment of simply covering the distance. I have never minded running in the cold--even extreme cold--so long as it is not slippery. The ice and I do not get along well. The paths around my town are snow covered, but not icy, and that is a joy.
Last night Abby and I were looking at pictures from the Afton Trail Run that we did together last July. It was the hardest thing that either of us had done (Yes, even harder that the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge) and it was great fun remembering the points on the race course where the pictures had been taken. From the very first hill the race was a challenge like none other, but at the end, and even last night, Abby said that it was her greatest running accomplishment so far in her life and she cannot wait to run it again this July.
This tells me something--those accomplishments that are most satisfying are not usually those that come easily or quickly. Even if achieving something is difficult, the challenge of the accomplishment seems to only enhance the satisfaction of making it to the finish. In other words, the greater the challenge, the deeper the satisfaction.
I suppose that is the place of choosing. Will I choose low-level, easily attainable goals and achieve them every time with a minimum of effort? Or will I choose daunting, seemingly impossible goals that may not be achievable even with maximum effort? That is one of the things that I love about running--I can always find the next seemingly impossible goal. My running proficiency is such that I do not need to do something like running across the United States to be seriously challenged.
Our faith journey is much the same way. I suppose that it is possible to choose a low-level path. Not much praying; just attend church when it is convenient; give from my spare change and spare time; pull out the Bible and read at Christmas and Easter. But what kind of faith journey is that? That would be like running to the end of the driveway and calling it a day. Certainly no lasting satisfaction there! And yet, if that was all I knew of running, I would not understand how enjoyable and invigorating it can be--how life-altering and deeply satisfying. I wonder if that is the same with faith?
How would my faith journey (or yours) be different if I consistently chose the uphill path that was less traveled as opposed to the downhill course that was well-trampled? What new vistas of God's power might I encounter? What satisfying challenges might I actually overcome? I have to believe that fully following God--heart, mind, soul, and strength--would be more satisfying than a spare change/spare time kind of faith. Radical, by David Platt, is a book that is challenging my approach to faith in the same way that running with Abby pushes me in my approach to running. It is worth a thoughtful reading. But only if you are prepared to have your comfortable life turned inside out.