Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5
As I was losing the weight that was killing me, I found one of the most important things I could do was to challenge myself. Testing yourself or putting up a challenge to yourself is an awesome way to find out who you are and what you are made of. Meeting small challenges can get you to some major victories in life. One of the biggest challenges I ever faced was walking 3.1 miles in a 5K event. At the time, I was 350 pounds and had to have oxygen to do any kind of cardio activity. This was the first challenge to get past, to do a public event with and oxygen tank and carrying all that weight and not feel like a fool. I did have that thought in the back of my mind, but through the encouragement and love of friends was able to get past that challenge. Embarrassment took up the rear and I was able to focus on the next challenge, facing the cold weather. The 5K event was held at the beginning of December, so it was freezing cold. I wore plenty of warm gear. I had gotten in the habit, during my walking training, not to use the weather as an excuse to keep me from my fitness goals; and I stand by those today. I don’t care how cold or hot it is, or if it’s raining, I am going to train. The next challenge to get past was just plain doing the 3.1 miles of walking. I had to step out in faith on that one to trust that my training was enough to get me to the finish line.
Challenging myself has become a way of life for me. I used to take the easy way out, now I don’t anymore. God does not want us being sluggish in our faith. In taking the easy way out, I discovered that I was unsure of my faith. I really was unconfident of how I stood with God. That’s why it’s crucial to test our faith by challenging ourselves. Here are 5 ideas to get you to the beginning stages of testing your faith and challenging yourself.
- Passion: Find a godly endeavor that will ignite your passion. Interesting enough, mine was physical fitness. As 1 Corinthians 3:16 talks about taking care of our body temples. Hence, of course that’s where I found the title of this blog. If you have read some of my prior blogs, you would know that I worship God with my body and with my exercise. My long run that I try to do once a week is big time worship time.
- Persistence: Keep at your passion. Don’t just give up on it if you are not satisfied, find other ways to make it exciting. For me I didn’t just want to stop at walking a 5K, I wanted to run a 5K. That was my next goal to shoot for. I may not have been out saving the lost or feeding the poor, but I was pleasing God with my activity. We can serve others in a much better position when we are healthy. I was not just changing my outside; I was changing my inside. That was the most important transformation. When that happened, it ignited a passion within me to serve others and to try to help those that need to get past strongholds in their lives.
- Purpose: There should be a purpose or a goal behind our passion. Mine was to get physically healthy, but God did a number on me. Not only did I get physically healthy, but I got spiritually healthy as well. Serving and loving others is my goal now. Loving yourself the right way can send you in the direction of loving others.
- Staying power: Don’t shy away from a challenge. Sometimes people will dissuade you from your passion. The majority may say that you should not do it. Let the Holy Spirit guild you to what you should do. Stepping out in faith is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life. I did that first 5K, then I the next year I ran that same 5K, and the following year I ran a half marathon. I stayed with it and was able to achieve things I never thought possible.
- Don’t’ be ordinary: I tried being ordinary, which is simple, but ordinary almost sent me on an early date with the Grim Reaper. Extraordinary is when you trust God enough to take you to the next level of faith. I’m talking about stepping outside of your comfort zone and making the choice to be extraordinary. If you have a faithful and trustful attitude toward God, you will find extraordinary just around the corner.
God will use people and other things to guide us toward our passion and finding the challenge that we need to have in order for us to grow spiritually. The key is to listen to His voice and you primarily get that through Bible study and prayer. If that is not a passion in your life, that may be a starting point for you. Exercise your faith by challenging yourself. The only way you fail is if you don’t really put forth an effort to ignite that passion within you. That passion will build your faith and you will find you are not a failure.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.