How will you prepare for the trials of the upcoming year? Are you investing in your spiritual health and readying yourself for the testing which is coming? Juve the lifeguard reminds us that preparation for our mission includes developing perseverance under load.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Matthew 4:1, 11
I have been watching Juve each day. He is my personal trainer without knowing it. The lessons he teaches point me to my path. Juve the lifeguard did something new today. I could see he was swimming the perimeter of the beach area, yet there was something different today. This morning, Juve had something behind him in the water. There was a splash coming up out of the water a couple of feet behind him. Shark? Was this the last morning I would see Juve protecting the beach?
Nope. Not a shark. It was a torpedo rescue buoy dragging behind him in the water. You have seen these things. This is the life-preserver that he will bring out for you to hold onto during your rescue. It’s the one David Hasselhoff ran down the beach with…
Is this guy for real? Why do that to yourself? Who swims 1600 metres with a bouy dragging behind? A diligent worker does. A dedicated athlete does. Why is Juve swimming with this behind him? It’s load. Drag. He is testing his readiness under load. Like you would do with an engine or a piece of machinery. You’ve heard of this. A motor has horsepower, yet the performance of the motor is described best under load. At a certain RPM, what is the power and performance?
Have you ever seen people training with weights on their ankles? People often do squats with weighs in hand or across their backs. The weight develops the desired muscle. That’s what Juve was doing. He was building his muscles under load. Why?
Because when he needs to use his training, when someone needs to be saved, he will be able to swim to their rescue easily with the float dragging behind him. He is testing himself under load so he can perform to expectations when the time comes. We are not tested in real life without load and drag. We are tested under pressure – carrying the weight – withstanding the forces.
As my model and example of training and preparation, Juve was teaching me a lesson about how we prepare for life. Performance doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Our fulfillment of our duty or mission doesn’t take place in the best, most ideal conditions. When we are tested in real life, there are complications. There are unforeseen events. Curve balls.
James tells us that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. We should joyfully embrace such testing… Don’t get carried away. Jesus was tempted by Satan for forty days – led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit for this period. God’s angels were never far away and they attended him after.
Jesus needed to persevere through this time of pressure, though, because it was foreshadowing of the pressure he experienced throughout his ministry on earth. He was tempted for forty days, not in the best environment, but rather in the worst environment. He was hungry and thirsty and tired and alone. And Jesus was tested under load to prove his resilience and his reliance. His will and the strength of the Spirit in him provided for him to resist Satan’s temptations. And then in the heat of ministry, when under attack of religious enemies, and while under the pressure of healing and providing miracles for the masses, and while training and teaching his disciples, he stayed strong and dedicated to his mission.
And while in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he was about to be arrested and go to the cross, Jesus was under perhaps the greatest attack of his life. His practice and training and reliance on the Spirit was strong. Not my will, he said, but yours, Father… Yours be done. Dedicated to the mission. Executing on his strength of character and preparation. And he didn’t crack. Why? Because he was spiritually prepared and he could handle load…
If you read through the temptation of Jesus, you will find that the Word of God was essential to Jesus’ success in facing trial. Jesus knew the Scriptures and he quoted them to Satan in defense. Are we ready for the trials we face? Often, we avoid putting ourselves under load so that we can have easier lives. Good short-term tactic. Short-sighted also.
How will you prepare for the trials of the upcoming year? What does training under load look like for you? Is it putting yourself in stretching situations? Is it taking on more responsibility that you might not be ready for? Is it purposefully sharing the Lord with people who may not be accepting of the message? Is it memorizing God’s word to be able to use it when you are tested? Are you investing in your spiritual health and readying yourself for the testing which is coming?
Happy New Year.