Richard arrived home after a long day of work.  It had been one of those days where nothing seemed to go right and there had been several events that called into question his intelligence and skill.  First, he pulled too far forward while parking and bumped the parking garage wall.  Next, he managed to jam the copier.  With the entire office staff impatiently watching and waiting to make their own copies, Richard, trying to pry out the offending stuck paper using a letter opener, short circuited the maniacal machine which burst into flames setting off the office fire sprinklers.  Finally, at the end of the day, walking to his car which still bore the marks of his earlier parking faux paus, he reached into his pocket for the keys and found…nothing.  He looked through the window with knowing dread to see his car keys mocking him as they hung from the ignition.  Now, finally, after all of this, plus a $100 excercise in humiliation at the hands of the locksmith, Richard arrived home.  Walking through the door to his castle he expected hugs and kisses and a reprieve from the days trials.  But instead his five year old ran up to him and tugged on his shirt and said, “Hey daddy, did you bring me a basket ball?  Are you hiding it under your shirt?  How come you have such a big belly Daddy? 

 He was so angry he didn’t even stop to eat his favorite dinner his wife had fixed that night.  He grabbed his gym bag and jumped into his truck.  The problem was he just plain didn’t like to work out.  There he had admitted it.  He didn’t like to work out.   Richard had joined the gym at the beginning of the year and had gone faithfully for awhile.  But now it had been a whole month since he had made the trip to the gym. When he arrived at the gym he saw a new poster on the wall and stopped to read it.  There would be a prize at the end of the year for the “Most Improved New Member”.  “Hmmmm,” Richard thought, “I could do that.” 

He talked to a Personal Trainer and made a plan to be in the gym six days a week.  Every day he showed up at the gym.  Every day he made a little more progress.  Every week he lifted a little more weight and ran just a little further than the week before.  He was excited by the changes he was seeing in his physique.  Then after a few months he reached the dreaded plateau.  It was very discouraging, not appearing to go any where despite all the hard work.  Then just when Richard was about to give up and take a break, just a short one of course, in walked last years winner of the “Most Improved” contest.  Wow!  Would you look at that.  No, he would not give up.  He would not.  He could win and look like that too if he just kept working at it. 

December 31st arrived and Richard took home the trophy for “Most Improved New Member”.  It had been hard work, a little here and a little more there.  He had worked hard and stuck with it, changing his thought patterns to become a winner.

God grows our spiritual experience in much the same way.  We make a commitment and every day we work out our spiritual muscles by making good decisions for the kingdom of God.  Just like we start out with smaller weights when we first begin weight lifting, God starts us off with beginner steps to His kingdom.  But as the years progress sometimes it seems like one difficulty after another.  But  these are just opportunities God has put before us to grow our spiritual muscles.  If we daily move forward in the direction of God we will one day be able to claim the crown of victory God designed just for us.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4:7 NIV