Several times each week, I go running (I use that term loosely) through the hilly woods behind my house. The path I run has been carved out by a combination of four-wheelers and deer on the move. In other words, the trail is designed for graceful animals and high-revving machines, not plodding, middle-aged men.
The path is a virtual minefield of exposed tree roots, drooping limbs, ruts, treacherous rocks, and hills so steep that they ought to come equipped with a ski lift. Needless to say, I’ve taken my fair share of spills along the way, limping home with mud in my teeth, weeds in my hair and lacerations too numerous to count.
What I’ve noticed over the years is that when I wipeout I can instantly gauge the intensity (& thus effectiveness) of the workout by assessing the amount of physical damage I’ve sustained. If I’m just plodding along at a leisurely pace and hit a tree root with my foot, I may stumble a little or, at worst, fall to one knee. However, when I’m going “full-tilt” and trip over a rock or deep rut, I’ll tumble so hard that the amount of dust kicked up looks like it came from a pile-up at a dirt bike race, and I usually emerge with enough cuts & bruise to make an Ultimate Fighter proud.
Quite simply, the harder I run the more potential damage I sustain, but the health and fitness benefits are also much greater (and that’s why I’m out there to begin with). If I’m running hard, like I should be, then I’m going to have “marks” that show I’m not just loafing or “phoning it in”.
That’s how it is with following Christ. If we’re doing it “full-tilt” or with great intensity, we’re going to get scuffed up and have some “marks” from the journey. If it’s all smooth sailing, with hardly a stumble, then we’re most likely following Jesus at a much too leisurely pace (our pace). It’s when we follow Jesus with great intensity – and thus “forcefully collide” with the evil and injustice in the world around us – that we’ll inevitably emerge a little bruised & bloodied from our journey.
1CO 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Worship – Grow – Serve