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Press On: Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone
Tough Mudder Video (Copyright Tough Mudder)
Recently, my brother and some friends participated in the Tough Mudder competition. This is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by the British Navy and described as “Possibly the toughest event on the planet.” (Take a look at these pictures to decide if you think it lives up to its claim!) The challengers sign a death waiver and endure some pretty dangerous and challenging obstacles. It is a gruesome and amazing event that brought the men back with big smiles on their faces.
Training for the event, some of the guys had to push themselves beyond their limits. While they are all in good shape physically, few of them are what you would call “gym rats” or “guerrillas.” They are normal, everyday men with families they have to see and jobs they have to perform. As I spoke with some of them after the event, I realized just how difficult the course was, especially in the humidity.
Their discipline in training for and then completing the Tough Mudder competition brings to mind Paul’s comment to the church at Philippi, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. …I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, called us” (Philippians 3:12,14 NIV). These men are in shape, they have families, they are upstanding men within the church and the community – they had no reason to push themselves to these limits. Yet each one felt the desire to compete and challenge himself to rise above comfort and prove he could do “possibly the toughest event” he will face in his lifetime. Like Paul, they each trained, took part in the race, and kept pressing on until they had completed it. Four hours and eight minutes after starting, the guys each crossed the finish line in triumph, feeling great about what they had just accomplished.
Like each of these men, we have to push ourselves daily. As Christians, we sometimes tend to become lazy in areas of our lives. We let our image go claiming that 1 Timothy tells us not to adorn our bodies or be vain. We participate in unhealthy eating in the name of fellowship. We live sedentary lifestyles in the name of studying the Bible more and praying. I challenge us all to believe God wants more than this for us. In His Word, He says he we are to live lives that are set apart, that we are called to be different from everyone else; yet, we often blend in so well that no one realizes we follow Christ until we boycott a chain store, speak out against certain lifestyles, or support CEOs’ first amendment rights. What we should be doing is pushing ourselves to live physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling lives that leave little room for judgment and much room for sharing Jesus’ love. What does this look like?
We need to begin challenging ourselves today to live so others see that we believe God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20) so we can give him “the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever (Ephesians 3:21, NIV). We need to keep our bodies in peak physical shape, our minds ready for all challenges, our emotions in check, and our spirits aligned with God. To do this, we have to ensure we set realistic goals, progress toward them, and celebrate our victories with one another. As I sit here overweight, I realize these men pushed themselves despite having jobs, families, and church commitments. They found time to be with their families, work, and serve their community – and still kept their bodies conditioned and improved so they could compete in the Tough Mudder. If they can do this, why can’t we all find a way to add family time, exercise, journal writing, mediation and prayer, and any other activities that will help us be the best “me” we can be? I am inspired by the dedication of this group of individuals and will be forever grateful to them for sharing their victory with us. Because of them, I have been reminded that I cannot neglect my outer being in the name of family obligations, community service, and work. Instead, I must press on, review my schedule, and make ways to ensure I am taking care of the entire package God gave to me.
In what areas do you need to improve your life? What changes can you implement today to make this happen? God has called us all to give our best in all we do (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV). Let’s start today.