“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock…” Jesus in Matthew 7:24
“A successful performance at a moment of crisis rests largely and essentially upon the depths of a self, wisely and rigorously prepared in the totality of its being—mind and body.” Unknown.
Success in life depends, in broad terms, on both dependence upon God and exerting personal effort. I cannot succeed spiritually without the working of God and He will not make me succeed spiritually without my exerting effort. I cannot do it without Him and He will not do it without me. Depending on God is paramount. Today the focus on my thoughts is on the “exerting personal effort” piece of thriving in life.
Jesus performed perfectly at all His points of ambush and opportunity in major part because He had prepared perfectly before He came to these events. In Matthew 7:24 Jesus compared the continual alignment of our lives with His Words to the wisdom of building a home on a solid foundation. Jesus was operating from a solid foundation when He succeeded in His trials and temptations.
Writer Dallas Willard talks about the difference between “training and trying.” All of us come to opportunities and to crisis. Sometime we know they are coming and sometimes they overtake us in an ambush. Willard says that how we do at these points will depend on whether we have trained for the moment or just come to the moment and determined to try real hard. Suppose that two athletes of equal ability are entered in a pole vault meet. One of them came well trained and the other came simply determined to try very hard. You know who will win.
Training for pole vaulting or for spiritual growth or for seizing opportunities that have not yet arrived is not generally glamorous or fun stuff. It is often hard and usually unseen by anyone and occasionally very tedious. Training for the pole vaulter involves hours of watching film and hours of lifting weights and hours of sprints and hours of practicing technique and hours of vaulting in front of a coach and hours of hard, often very tedious stuff.
Training for spiritual maturity and for successful resistance to temptation is hard, disciplined, un-glamorous, unseen, application of myself to the Word of God and to prayer and to meditation and to responsiveness to my mentors and to diligent work. If I am willing to enter this kind of training I will reap the fruit of this training. I will come to the temptations and resist. I will come to the opportunities and shine. I will come to the attacks and not retaliate. I will come to the threats and not be anxious. I will come to the chances for impact and make a difference.
The challenge is this: If I want to be in a diligent, ongoing spiritual training program I will need to initiate it and I will need to be diligent in keeping it going. The same is true for you. No one else will mandate the program and no one else will initiate the program and no one else will maintain the program.
Too much of my own life has been trying real hard at the point of opportunity and too little of my own life has been training diligently in the day-in and day-out course of life. I want to change that in my life. I am tired of trying real hard at the points of temptation or trial or ambush or opportunity—and having mixed results. I am tired of not being ready and trained. I am spurred on by the view of what could be if I came to these events in life and was thoroughly ready to succeed.