By Chris Welch
Embrace challenge? Why?
Let’s be honest. We prefer things to be easy. We are conditioned to embrace convenience; and we like it. Our phone apps and Facebook feeds can even do our thinking for us! But even with all of our modern conveniences and endless supply of “life hacks,” the reality is that life is challenging. Normal stuff like relationships, work, or parenting takes a significant amount of effort! Add to that the major curve balls of life and you won’t find “an app for that” to make it easy again.
Life is challenging.
I’d love to tell you that I have always had a great attitude toward challenge, but I must confess that sometimes I just want to run and hide. When I feel overwhelmed, the last thing I want to do is embrace challenge. And I suspect I am not alone in this.
Why Embrace Challenge?
James says it like this: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4, MSG)
We embrace challenge because it is the vehicle that drives us to maturity.
What if Marsalis laid down the trumpet the first time he played a wrong note or had sore lips? What if Jordan quit playing basketball the first time he missed a basket or sustained an injury? The best musicians and athletes arrive at their level not by sheer talent, but by dedication to overcome weaknesses and challenges. We too must practice our faith with a dedication to the desired result, especially when confronted with the reality of weakness. And according to James, challenge reveals the true colors of your faith-life. YIKES! It is easy to put up a front, but how are we really doing in our walk with God? If you didn’t know before that disagreement with your wife, you do now. If you didn’t know before you lost your job or your friend, you do now. The way we respond to challenge reveals the true nature of our faith. And, according to James, this is a GOOD thing! With our problems and our sin in plain view, we can confront it and make progress. It takes courage, but we embrace challenge to go deeper in our faith and to go further with or Lord.
We embrace challenge even when we feel like running.
One of my favorite songs of Aaron Gillespie has the line: “I’m the type of person who lets fear drive.” No pretense there. It’s real and honest. And I can relate. There are moments when I simply want to run and hide from the challenges and responsibilities that are mine. These are the moments when I need to hear God’s truth from 2 Tim. 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (NIV). God’s spirit in us is real and powerful. Love and self-discipline are strong in the face of challenge. By grace, we embrace it when others run. We embrace challenge because we are supernaturally equipped to do so.
Maybe you are facing some very difficult circumstances right now. Unemployment, broken relationships, sickness or other loss. Maybe you are experiencing the challenge of added responsibilities at work or at home. Whatever has you feeling overwhelmed and ready to run and hide, remember the powerful spirit you have been given. Behold the path to maturity and embrace it today.
Challenge? Bring it on!
Lt. Chris Welch is a disciple of Jesus Christ serving with his wife as a corps officer in a village in the north of Italy. He is a dad to two beautiful little boys and enjoys drumming and all things music.