I just recently joined a Crossfit gym that is really near our house here in Richardson, TX. Every night, they post the next day’s workout on their Instagram account so you can dress appropriately. On a recent Wednesday night, all the Instagram post said was “5K.”
I turned to Megan and said, “Surely we can’t just be running a 5K. It’s supposed to be 30 degrees outside! Plus, we never run that far all at once in Crossfit.”
Megan said, “Well, you better dress warmly just in case.”
So I dressed warmly and brought my running shoes. Sure enough, when I walked in and asked, “Are we seriously about to run a 5K this morning?” the coach smiled and said, “Yep!”
Now I don’t mind running when there have been times in my life when I’ve tried to be a runner. But it takes some practice and some training. When I’m not in “runner mode” then I really dislike making my body run.
When the coach outlined the course for the morning I noticed that the path was going to take us from the Crossfiti gym, through the neighborhood, passing right in front my house along the way.
So we stretched and warmed-up a little. When the coach said, “Go,” we all just started running.
Now, this wasn’t a very big class, so it didn’t take long for us to all get separated by our individual paces. Just a few minutes into the run I found myself running alone.
And that’s when the voices of temptation began…
“Josh, what are you doing? This is crazy. Just start walking. You shouldn’t be out here. It’s too early. It’s way too cold. You’re too out of shape.”
And all I could think of was Dory from Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” That was me: “Just keep running. Just keep running.”
But then where it got really hard was when I was all alone, running right by my own house. At 6:00 in the morning. In 30 degree weather.
Those voices were strong… “Wow, it looks warm in there. You should just stop and go home. There’s coffee in there… warm. coffee.”
It took everything within me to keep running, but I had my goal in mind, and I knew if I just kept my feet moving, I could do it. So when I reached the end, I felt like a million bucks! But wow, the temptation to give up was real and strong!
In a recent sermon, we talked about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, found in Matthew 4. Immediately following Jesus’ baptism where God affirms Jesus’ identity and purpose in the world, we recognized that the temptation of Jesus was less about enticing him to do something evil, and more about distracting him from living into his true calling.
The same is true with us. More often than not, our temptations are not merely drawing us toward something “bad.” More importantly, they deny us from living into the whole person that God has designed us to be!
With that slight change in perspective, our approach to avoiding temptation changes as well. Instead of always saying, “No, I will not do that. I will not give in,” and always running away from the things that tempt us, we should look to say, “Yes,” to something else that can take its place–“yes” to something else that contributes positively to the work that God wants to do in our lives.
Instead of constantly saying, “No,” to compulsive shopping, what about saying, “Yes,” to establishing a regular time of prayer? Instead of just saying, “No,” to another drink, what about saying, “Yes,” to spending time in God’s Word?
Kind of like running right in front of my house on that cold, COLD morning. It was one thing to say, “No,” to the temptation to stop running and go inside for a cup of hot coffee, but what really kept me going was saying, “Yes,” to the goal of finishing.
Think about the things that you’ve been struggling to say, “No,” to recently. And then pray that God would open your eyes to the things that you need to say, “Yes,” to in its place. Don’t continue to let temptation draw you away from your true calling as a child of God. Instead, with that goal in mind, keep running–one step in front of the next–toward the person that God has designed you to be!