In the front yard of the home I share with my husband, there grows a 100-year-old live oak tree, complete with spanish moss. We grapple with that tree because of one truly challenging fact: multiple times a year, the tree sheds prodigious amounts of leaves, pollen, spanish moss and small branches. It happened again two weeks ago. So, last week, armed with rakes large and small as well as numerous garbage bags, I set about the task of raking up the mess that completely covered the lawn. In past years this task was enough to cripple me for days, my back muscles in knots and my arms crying out in pain with every movement. This year, though, I’ve been swimming and working out regularly, so as I raked pile after pile of leaves and lifted bag after bag, I noted with pleasure that the movements were strenuous but not straining. As my daughter and I pushed to finish up three hours of raking, I was sore but not in pain. Miraculously, I was fine the next morning, too.
As is often true, our spiritual lives can work similarly to our physical bodies. Consider this. For me, my being in better shape meant that my body could handle the stress of raking leaves for hours. So, what if we re-frame this in faith terms? Just as raking leaves can strain our bodies, there are events in our lives that strain our spirits. Really, we all know that there are some difficult things that come our way – people lose jobs and homes and relationships; death claims every one of us at some point. Almost all of us will experience some life changing or tragic event in our lives, sometimes many of them. But when we spend time getting in spiritual shape ahead of time – developing a deep and lasting relationship with Jesus through worship and prayer and reading the Bible and serving others – we’re better able to weather the challenges of our lives when they come, because we already know the One who will get us through.
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?