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Enduring Faith

Dean Karnazes, ultra-marathoner extraordinaire said in an interview once:

Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.

I’m going to rewrite that quote and will bold the places I’ve changed and see if it makes any sense to you:

The Western Church has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s nothing worth struggling for in our churches. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, we sit in a chair, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m pressing on toward the goal, and in that struggle I think there’s grace.

It’s too easy. Dean gets it right in the original quote and I think I’m accurate in translating it into the reality of the disciple’s life. What growing and meaningful gatherings of disciples have in common is that they are enduring and persevering in faith rather than passively participating in discipleship once a week. A couple of hours a week isn’t enough which is why we have people in our churches who are comfortably numb to the reality of what Jesus calls us to.

Karnazes recently ran 50 marathons on 50 consecutive days yet many of us can’t find the time to pray for five minutes a day for five days. Why is it so difficult for us to push and persevere and find true happiness in than rather than comfortability and uneasiness? I think the key may be found in the way it is so easy to find distraction – to find a way out. It would be easy for Karnazes to hit the snooze button on his alarm clock at 4 a.m. instead of getting out the door to run for hours on end, but he has found something worth struggling for. I fear that the church has not found Jesus worth struggling for. I fear that I have found Jesus not worth struggling for and I pray that for me and for you, we do press on, we do struggle and in the midst of that grunting and groaning we find grace.

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