No Pain, No Gain :: By Camilla Smith

I’m about as tired of writing “walking” articles as people probably are of reading them. But that is where these little whims come from, so I don’t know what else to do about it.

I just came in from the beautiful outdoors—sunny, 56 degrees. Perfect walking weather. Five miles behind me, I had an epiphany while I was out there. I always walk with ankle weights on my legs and wrist weights in my hands. Well, carrying all that weight just hurts. It hurts the neck, it hurts the shoulders—all those muscles start to burn while I am motivating around. And worst of all, I was doing my hair the other day and I thought to myself, “Does my neck look thick?” Oh great. Now I’m getting a thick neck to go with my thick skull.

So I quit carrying so much weight, cut it back by half. Does that ever make that walk move along more quickly! You should see my stride. I’m nearly skipping.

Two weeks into that, however, I notice the scale is not budging. The arms may be sagging just a little bit. I am decomposing, I suppose. I don’t know. So I picked up the weights again today—the full amount. Two laps into that, the burn comes on and I am in agony, and I thought to myself, “This is what they mean by no pain, no gain.” But I wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, I might have been going in the wrong direction, had I stayed on this course. So time will tell.

Without inserting any musical connotations into this exercise revelation, I realized that that is how my spiritual life gets sometimes. When I slack off and stop putting the gusto into my walk with Christ, I get flabby and lazy in my spiritual journey. Cutting back on the prayer, leaving out a morning devotional, not reading the Bible for a couple days — not good. It is amazing how quickly you can feel the Lord’s presence pull back when you draw away from Him.

And it is unbelievable how mightily He comes bounding back to you when you seek Him out. Instantaneously, He is there. Obviously, He never left, but the closeness you feel with Him does, when you shortchange your time with the Lord. I would call it a very empty feeling—a feeling that is lacking of any joy. Pastor Adrian Rogers, in one of his masterful sermons described it as the “manifestation of God’s presence.” It is our definition of worship. While we may worship in many ways (for example going to church or singing hymns, tithing or working in ministry) is this the definition of worship? “No.” says Pastor Rogers. “True worship is enjoying the presence of God.”


So how do we do that? Admittedly, it is growing more and more difficult to actually find the time to worship in the way we know we should (and hopefully in the way we want to) while trying to stay on the merry-go-round of life. Some days it is just all one can do to find some semblance of normalcy in this rapidly disintegrating world in which we live. There really is no norm any more. The familiar has been replaced. The simple pleasures in life are fleeting. Even a bright, sunny day has lost a little bit of its appeal.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe it is that melancholy time of late autumn and the threat of a harsh winter coming our way. Maybe it is a midlife crisis coming on. Very possibly it is a little too much information on the news channels. How can we have so much information, but not even really know what is going on? It is not a good feeling knowing that the tidbits of information we are allowed to hear are just that—allowed. We don’t get the full story. We are not allowed to know it. But that is fodder for another, introspection.

I think you will agree with me that coping with the day-to-day drama of the world can be downright painful—physically painful, definitely mentally painful, emotionally painful and oftentimes even spiritually painful. If we are not walking closely with God and allowing ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we are depleting our spirituality. We are missing out on the vitamins and minerals of the soul. We are not working out with weights. We are simply strolling along. We need that vitality that only Jesus Christ can provide.

And as close as we are to the Rapture, we need to be molding ourselves after Christ’s perfect example. I feel it and I know many of you do, too. I sense the nearness of Jesus’ call for us and I feel the desire to live my life pleasing Him. He is drawing nearer to us and we should be yearning to see Him at any moment.

Whatever time we have left here, I want to devote to listening to His voice and walking in His presence. I have yet to pick up my Bible in the morning and regret the time I spent doing it. I have yet to steal a few moments from my day and use them for prayer and wish I hadn’t done it. It just is not possible. Any time you can give to God will bless you abundantly and you will feel His comfort flood your soul.

So my humble piece of advice is to pick up that Bible and bow that head. Work harder at it. Start your day with it and end your night with it. Keep the channels open all day long. Before long my friends, it will become very clear to us what “pain” and “gain” really mean. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he suffered the pain, we gain the victory. And it is for that simple reason we should be jumping through hoops to do His will and live in His favor. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? He suffered immensely and we reap the benefits. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for loving me that much.