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24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. 25 Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. 26 Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. 1 Cor 9: 24-26 AMPC
The phrase ‘going through the motions’ is often used with a negative connotation. Mainly because it usually means you’re just doing activity, but your heart isn’t in it. But I think that going through the motions isn’t always a bad thing. There’s a place for doing what is right, doing what you know pleases God, doing what is best, even when it hurts, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it feels hopeless. Situations that feel hopeless are often just the opposite of that. But if we are guided by our sight, guided by our senses and emotions, we miss the fact that God is in the midst of the seemingly hopeless situation, working ALL THINGS together for our good.
I believe that there is great spiritual benefit in discipline – in being faithful to do what must be done, in following through even when things are tough. In the scripture, Paul spoke about adopting the mentality of an athlete in his walk with Christ. He references the fact that athletes are disciplined. They restrict themselves in all things. They have a prize, a goal in mind, and that goal determines all their choices throughout the day. What time they wake up, what they eat, what they wear, where they live in relation to the gym or practice area, how they spend their days, the people they spend time with, what they do with their free time…if they have any. The prize is so precious, the moment of glory is so dear, that they are willing to sacrifice.
Christ is my prize, my portion and reward. The Holy Spirit is my coach. He gently reminds me of what must be done to follow Jesus with my life and lovingly convicts me when I fall short. He shows me my areas of weakness and reminds me that God’s strength is made perfect in these times. So I get up, brush off shame and guilt, and press on.
If you’ve ever watched the Karate Kid (thank God for Jaden Smith or this reference would make me seem ancient!)…then you’ll remember that long before he was the Karate Kid, his trainer Mr. Miyagi had him doing things that seemed useless, felt mindless, appeared meaningless. He waxed cars, he picked up his jacket and hung it what seemed like a million times. “What’s the sense in that?”, he thought. “Better to give up now, this is pointless”. But as he remained faithful in doing the movements he was taught, he became stronger, more flexible and agile. He then had to do the same movements blindfolded. So he became adept in doing the motions without his sight. Without relying on his senses. By the time he fought his opponents he was the toughest guy in the room – because he’d put in the work when no one was watching. He didn’t need to depend on his sight to know what to do. He was guided by all the master had taught him and so he overcame his opponent.
Same with me : I go through the motions. I do as my master says even when I don’t understand , even when I can’t see what’s in front of me. I know God has a good plan for my life. I know He is building my character and faith, making me strong in my inner being, so that when I’m confronted by the enemy I will overcome. He is using every motion, every challenge, every activity I feel like I’m doing for the millionth time to bring about a spiritual fortitude in me that is necessary for the road ahead.
So my Father trains me in the unseen motions of victory. As I keep my focus on Christ, as I remember that He is my greatest treasure, the light afflictions and the sacrifices I make become so worth it as I imagine eternity with Him. I move as my Father has taught me through this life, calm because He is with me. His Spirit guides me as I navigate the treacherous journey of life. He shows me where the minefields are and sometimes He just whispers a direction. Stop. Go. Over to the left. Speak now and only these words… I’m able to move with confidence, not depending on my senses, not affected by what I can see. My heart is filled with peace as I follow His lead knowing that I am safe. I go through the motions because my heart is His, because my life is in His capable hands, because my path is sure even when I can’t see.
Love & Blessings,