This morning I ran the Thomas House 5k Run 4 Homeless Children. First time since high school I’ve run in any official race. My dog was not at all happy that I went running without her. So after running 3.1 miles and walking the mile home from the race site, I had to take her running for another mile if I was going to have any peace the rest of the day. And no, running is not something in which I find the least bit of pleasure.
But as I pondered why I was doing something I dislike so much, it occurred to me what a sad life I would live if I only ever did the things I enjoy. Our life treasures of character, stamina, perspective, values, and a host of other things are built from the trials and challenges and struggles we face. It’s as if those things are deposits into a bank account that we can then draw on to enjoy the pleasures of life even more.
The gospels tell us to deny our self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. The discipline of denying our self (saying “no” to what we want, “yes” to what God wants) develops in us the strength to take up our cross so that we can choose to follow Jesus. This isn’t some humanistic drawing on our own strength; this is the process God has ordained for us to draw on His strength to follow the path He wants us on.
Hot and sweaty, I prepare to jump in the shower, only to discover the hot water heater is on the fritz. Cold showers are also not something I take pleasure in. Maybe I should have started this article by making a distinction between choosing to do what we don’t want to do and being forced to do what we don’t want to do.