The Next Step
By Samantha Krieger
It has felt like boot camp every time I’ve gone. The women to my right and left are trim, toned, and can lift the heavy weights. My mid-section is a bit pudgy being six weeks out of having my third child, and I have to choose the light weights as a beginner.
As we dive in to chisel class, my fitness instructor, Galey, wastes no time through each workout and each set within the workout intensifies. My arm, back, and leg muscles strain and ache from the barbell lunges, squats, and dead lifts.
During pushups and abs, my arms are shaky and I wonder if I can keep going. I gaze at the clock wondering if I’m at the end yet. I’m starting to feel a little sick, but I know I can do it.
“This is hard,” Galey yells while crunching her abs. “Remember that’s OK!”
Finally, the ab drills are over. My whole body feels like jello and I can barely muster up the strength to do the stretching exercises. I put away my barbell and hand weights and smile at the other women. We all have that look of relief on our faces.
As I head out the door to pick up my kids from childcare, I overhear Galey talking with a new member of the class, “The key to these classes is you have to keep coming. Then you’ll start to get the hang of it and get better.”
I nod my head as I hear her talking. I know that the key is faithfulness if I want to see results. But not only would I need to be faithful, perseverance through every exercise would have to become by best friend in order to grow lean and strong.
Perseverance through Experience
If there’s anything I’ve learned at 29 years old it’s that without perseverance it’s nearly impossible to withstand the winds and the rains that beat against the doors of the Christian life. And the means by which we learn perseverance is through life experiences.
Here are a few experiences God has used to teach me perseverance:
- Undergoing years of intense study to earn my undergraduate/graduate degrees
- Praying for my dad’s brain tumor diagnosis in 2004
- Training and running my first marathon
- Enduring an ACL soccer injury, the surgery, and physical therapy
- Trusting God with my husband’s career changes
- Getting through the excruciating pain of childbirth
When I think of perseverance I’m reminded of my friends Kavan and Lindsey. In February, Kavan deployed for Afghanistan to serve our country in the Army. Their second baby girl was born just a month after he left. While it was difficult, Lindsey stayed strong and began adjusting to life with two.
Kavan’s words of encouragement, Facebook posts, and flowers from Afghanistan on Mother’s Day helped her press on in the waiting. She’s endured hard days in motherhood and being in a city all by herself. Yet she knows the hope that lies ahead. In just a few days, Kavan will return home, reunite with his bride, and meet his daughter for the first time. What an exciting day that will be for their family.
What Saves a Man?
C.S. Lewis once said that, “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.”
Every endeavor worth pursuing requires a first step. And I believe the first step just might be the hardest because there’s such a battlefield in the mind to overcome. It’s easier to become discouraged and throw in the towel. I have to not only fight the big letdowns, but the lies in my mind and heart that subtly say:
- I can’t
- God could never use someone like me
- I don’t have any gifts or special abilities
And exchange them for truth:
- I can do anything through Christ’s strength
- God wants and desires to use me
- I’ve been uniquely talented and gifted for God’s glory
Walking by faith is no easy task. God’s path isn’t always brightly lit. His ways are often not my ways. And trials and adversity can wear even the strongest soul down but obstacles are often the best tools for our sanctification and growth.
In difficult circumstances, the next step is all that’s required of me. It’s comforting to know that the burdens aren’t my own to carry either. My responsibility is to be faithful and obedient to the Lord.
Persevering in my faith also means that I’ve been called to continue in a state of grace to the very end as the beloved hymn puts so well:
"T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far . . . and Grace will lead us home.” – Amazing Grace
I can’t forget that God’s grace is what carries me, day by day. Somehow I lose sight of that at times and forget it is even there for me to draw upon. I’ve been given access to His grace whenever and however I need it.
One day my life will come to an end. Either Jesus will come or I will be taken home. Knowing such truth gives me the hope to endure life’s trials. I know that everything will be okay because I have Jesus and He will be there at the end.
Well in case you were wondering I just completed my 3rd week of chisel class at the gym. Every class has been different and it never ceases to be challenging. But my clothes are getting looser, my little girl’s baby carrier feels lighter, and I feel stronger than I was a month ago. By God’s grace I’ll make it to the 30th week!
Samantha Krieger is a writer and editor in Dallas, Texas. Through story, personal reflection, and biblical insight she is passionate about helping others live out their faith in everyday life. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, she wrote Bible study curriculum for Bluefish TV — one of the largest Christian video publishing companies. She’s written for LifeWay’s Collegiate Magazine, Focus on the Family Magazine, StartMarriageRight.com, and has contributed to books on Christian living. She holds a B.A. in English from Liberty University and a M.A. in Religion with an emphasis in Church Ministries from Liberty Theological Seminary. Samantha and her husband, Jeremiah, have two children: John (3) and Rebekah (1), and their third child will be arriving late June. She blogs weekly at:samanthakrieger.com and tweets at: @samanthakrieger.
CC Photo by PennStateLive on Flickr