Pushing Yourself to the Limit for Growth

One of my all time favorite work-out songs is Nelly's "Heart of a Champion." Love the beat, love the lyrics and love the energy it gives me to keep pushing and going when I want to quit. This morning as I was running there was one line in the song that caught my ear,
"I push myself to the limit so my talent will surface."
Reminds me of the axiom 'no pain, no gain.'  The problem is, I don't know about you, but I haven't found pushing myself to the limit to be the most enjoyable thing I can do.  I'd rather have success, growth and accomplishments come without the pain that comes with pushing myself to the limit.

The truth however is it doesn't work that way.  I discovered this in high school.  I wanted to be a Varsity hockey player but I didn't have the natural talent to do it.  So I had to make the choice to embrace the pain that would come with pushing myself to a place of growth.  My training included building muscles by lifting weights, shooting pucks until I had callouses on my hand, catching pneumonia after rollerblading to school in the snow, and exhausting myself running sprints up hills and biking the difficult trails.  I had to push myself beyond my desire to quit, and the result was that my skills improved tremendously.

Very, very rarely does anything of lasting significance come through the easy route.  This is even true in our faith walk.  Following Jesus every day, in every way, will involve some tough choices and some pain.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23 ESV)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12 ESV)
Carrying a cross, denying yourself, fear and trembling.  These don't sound like words that characterize the easy path do they?  They are, however, the way to growth.

Two weeks ago I had a conversation with my wife that was painful.  I discovered there were some areas in our marriage where I had fallen way short of God's call on me as a husband and as a man.  Hearing those things from my wife didn't feel good, but I needed that wake-up call.  That pain.  Without it there would be no gain in our marriage.  The easy way would have led to boredom, emptiness and loneliness.  A sad description of a Biblical marriage.

I am committed to pushing myself to the limit as a husband, father and man.  There is one big difference though that goal and the goal of having my talent surface.  The Bible is clear I have no talent to save me in these areas.  Rather, I push myself so that God may arise in my life, clear away what is broken and restore me as He intended me to be.  That is the goal.  He is my goodness and my godliness.  If I will embrace Him and all He offers, I will see things happen in my life that I never imagined and I will move far beyond the ordinary into a life that is extraordinary.