In our P119 Spiritual Workout series we’ve looked at the similarities between an exercise program for our physical bodies, and spiritual growth for our souls. There are so many parallels for us to look at, but one of them that rings true for everyone is the up-and-down, on-and-off cycles that so many of us experience.
You know how it goes…
- Your diet is going great and you are dropping some pounds (yea!), and then you go on vacation and all of your gains are lost (boo!).
- You are doing really well at sticking with your new exercise routine (yea!), and then a head cold and some rainy weather knock you off your plan and it’s really hard to start back up again (boo!).
- You are reading your Bible, and praying, and feeling so close to God (yea!), and then relationship issues, trouble at work, and a leaky hot water tank send you reeling (boo!).
We all hope our spiritual growth (or diet or exercise routine) would take us to new heights, but this up-and-down again cycle makes it feel like we aren’t getting anywhere—
In Psalm 119:49-56 the psalmist experienced this exact same up-and-down cycle:
- He’s tight with God (v. 49)
- Then he experiences suffering (v. 50a)
- Only to recall God’s promises (v. 50b)
- And then he’s getting mocked for this faith (v. 51)
- But he’s quick to remember God and find comfort in Him (v. 52)
- Only to get his eyes off of God and onto the godless, which causes him trouble (v. 53)
- But he remembers God’s ways again and is comforted by singing songs about God (vv. 54-55)
Sound familiar? Up-and-down. Close-to-God-and-far-away. On-and-off. Yea!-and-Boo!
HOW DO WE BREAK OUT OF THIS?!?
The key is found in the final verse—This has been my practice: I obey Your precepts (v. 56, NIV). Look how some other translations render this verse:
- This I had, because I kept Thy precepts (KJV).
- This is how I spend my life: obeying Your commandments (NLT).
- This I have had [as the gift of Your grace and as my reward]: that I have kept Your precepts… (AMP).
When we put this all together we get the solution that helps us break free from the up-and-down again cycle—
It’s ONLY by focusing on God’s GRACE everyday!
When we focus on God and His gift of grace to us, we minimize the ups-and-downs. How? Because the focus is not on what I’m doing or what others aren’t doing, but on God, His faithfulness, and His grace to us.
When God’s grace becomes our focus, we can break free from the up-and-down cycle—