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We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3

walk“The first 25 feet are the hardest part of a walk.”

These words came from a friend of mine who had recently reached a milestone he was very proud of. Six months earlier he’d suffered a heart attack that nearly took his life. His doctor told him in no uncertain terms that unless he changed his lifestyle he would have another heart attack and that heart attack would most likely kill him.

The main ingredient in the lifestyle change, according to that doctor, was exercise. He told my friend that he should walk at minimum of 30 minutes a day four to six days a week. A sixty minute walk daily would be best.

My friend’s milestone? In the past six months he’d lost 40 pounds and his last health check-up revealed his blood pressure and other vitals were better than he’d had in years. The key was consistent exercise and discipline.

It wasn’t easy. As his statement reveals. There were many days he didn’t want to walk. There were days he was too tired, the weather wasn’t pleasant or he didn’t have time to walk. But he forced himself to walk because he realized his life literally depended on it. “The first 25 feet were the hardest” because that’s how far it was from his easy chair to the door!

Exercise in the physical sense isn’t pleasant for most of us. Some of us have way too many things going on to ‘waste time on that particular activity.’ However, when we realize its importance and we see our lives as depending on it, it makes it easier to make the first 25 feet.

What’s true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm. There are times in our lives when reading God’s word or joining with God’s people in corporate worship simply seems like too much work or a waste of valuable time.

My friend’s heart sent him a message in a very real and blatant way: Change your ways if you want to be healthy. In the same way, God sometimes allows problems into our lives in order to bring us to a point where we turn our focus towards our spiritual health with him.

Life will deal us cruel blows. There will be problems. The Bible talks repeatedly about the fact that we will encounter ‘trials and tribulation’ in life. Those struggles aren’t as important as how we react to them. We have a choice when problems come into our lives. We can either use those struggles to reject God (and thus live in frustration, guilt and anger) or we can use those struggles to learn to lean more completely on God’s power through faith in Christ and the empowerment of his Holy Spirit.

As one write said, character is formed by the following equation: Trials + Endurance = Character. Trials, in a sense are God’s part. Endurance talks of our response to the trials. Character is built when we learn to lean more fully on God as a result of the trials we encounter.

Begin your path to spiritual health by taking those first 25 feet. Get an easy translation of the Bible and begin to read it. Seek out a house of worship where the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ is preached. Don’t take your spiritual health for granted. It takes work that will pay off eternally!

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the grace I’ve received through your son. I confess that too often I don’t take my walk with you seriously. Help me to take the struggles the come my way as opportunities to draw more fully on your power. In Jesus name, Amen.

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