Endurance is your weekly spiritual workout, whether you think of yourself as a beginner, an intermediate, or advanced!
Explore with us as we look at the idea of ‘Breaking the Wall’.
Go Deeper with Andy B, as he talks about spiritual walls in our lives.
Having read our two Scriptures for this week, Andy begins by speaking about those walls that we can face when exercising.
He relates a personal experience of hitting a wall while cycling one time. And he looks at the idea of overcoming that wall in terms of not giving up because of feelings – feelings that the wall is impassable or impenetrable.
He also talks about another type of wall, which is more of a warning, such as when we feel pain.
And he uses an analogy he has used frequently in the past, regarding an elephant that is tied to a steak as a calf with a small rope. This same rope is used to tie the elephant up even when it becomes an adult, even though the elephant has the strength to break it by that point. The elephant doesn’t break free of the rope because it has a mental wall it cannot overcome.
Read and Remember:
Steven reminds that the way to break through the walls in our spiritual lives is by keeping our eyes on the prize – on what Christ did for us on the Cross, on heaven, etc.
Reflect and Respond:
Nathan explains that we need to exercise discernment so that we can distinguish between walls that are in fact boundaries, and walls that are actually obstacles which we need to overcome. The way we overcome those walls that are obstacles is by keeping our eyes on the prize, so that we endure.
Welcome to Endurance. I'm Steven
And I'm Nathan
And this is your weekly spiritual workout.
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This week we're looking at, er, the wall. How we over come that. How we get past it, which Andy B will unpack for us, after the break.
It's not what you believe that counts. It's what you do. Even the devil believes Jesus rose from the grave.
So today we're looking at beating the wall.
What's the wall?
Well, if you're into exercise in any kind of way, and even if you're not, you've probably experienced the wall at some point.
It's that sense, and that feeling, that you've got so far, and you've got nothing left to give. You cannot carry on, that's the wall. But the other part of that, which is really important, is that you can carry on, most of the time.
So beating the wall.
What do we need to know about that?
Well, we need to understand what the wall is, what it can be, and what it can, not, be on occasion, in order to know how to proceed.
But as ever, let's just dive into some scripture and we're going to be looking at 2 Corinthians chapter 4, erm, verse 7 through to 18. And as ever I'm using my ESV translation Bible.
And then I'm going to jump straight to Galatians chapter 6 verse 9.
So I'll do these back to back.
So the 1st one is 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 7 through 18 and it says this:
"But we have treasures, we have this treasure in jars of clay. To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair. Persecuted but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed. Always carrying in the body, the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we, who live, are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, I believed, and so I spoke. We also believe, and so we also speak. Knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also, with Jesus, and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase Thanksgiving to the glory of God, so we do not lose heart. Though the outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. As we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
Which is really encouraging!
But let's just jump to Galatians, chapter 6, verse 9, which says, simply, this:
"And let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we will reap if we do not give up".
Now, erm, I love cycling. I talk about cycling when I can. I like getting on my bike when I can, erm, and since my boys were first born. In fact, since Stephen was a new-born, we had a bicycle trailer with a special device that let a new-born child be travelling, in safety, in a cycle trailer. Cycling is something that has just been part of our life for a very long time.
And I used to cycle for about 18 miles, two directions, so that's 18 times 2, 36 miles, every so often to go and see someone. And I'd cycle with, er, Stephen, and I'd have a trailer and those 18 miles were quite hard. Because the trailer was very good, and some of the best of the German engineering that we could find, er, nearly two decades ago. Erm, it was very light. It had all sorts of really cool things to make it lightweight, but it was still a bit like dragging a sail into the wind, which was hard work.
And I'd take lots of water, and I'd have lots of food. I'd eat pasta before I went. I'd have pasta when I came home. In between the 2 journey, the 2 legs of the journey, and that's how I would do it.
But occasionally I would hit this point of cycling, usually about three quarters of the way home, when I would completely run out, not so much of energy, but my legs just would no longer turn.
I thought I'm done in. There's something wrong with me. I can't carry on.
Thankfully, there was a shop. I got through all my water. I stopped and I bought some water, drank a load of water and I thought, I thought I was thirsty, but I'm still, I've got nothing. My legs can barely stand up. They're like jelly.
So I went and bought a bit of food. And I ate some food, and 5 or 10 minutes later I started to have some life back in my legs. I felt like I could carry on again. And the reality is, that, over time I've learned that what I felt was an in, in, erm what's the word? I couldn't get past the wall. I couldn't get past this wall of tiredness.
I've learned since then that that was just me thinking I'd run out of energy. Actually, I had plenty left! I could have kept going, but I thought, and I felt as though I'd hit a wall, and I could go no further.
And we have that in our spiritual lives. But we'll come back to that.
But a really important lesson, is to understand, is it a wall or is it not. And one of the most common walls that we'll face, whether you are into exercise, erm, because you love doing that, or whether it's just because you're walking to the shop. Most of us, at some point, are going to hit the wall, and quite frequently it's a lack of water, nothing more, nothing less.
We just need a drink.
The body is dehydrated.
We need to hydrate so we drink water and we feel good again.
Sometimes it is because we're out of energy. Physical food is needed, in order to give, er, our muscles, and whatever, all the energy it requires. I don't know the biology of that, but that's how it works.
But sometimes that wall, actually, is something rather more impenetrable. That's the word I was looking for before, that was the word.
Erm, but we need to be careful of, well, is it a wall we can't get through? Is it a wall that isn't even there? Is it a real wall? If it's a real wall do we need to go round it, through it, what, blow it up, what?
And when we look at some of the writings that Paul wrote, er, so much of the New Testament, it's in an area where exercise would have been what we would have probably seen, and thinking of, as the Olympic Games.
That would have been quite normal! Not quite as it is today, but that's what went on a lot. So we see a lot of the New Testament. Paul writes about exercising. About running the race. About, erm, endurance. About going for the prize. About being in a good physical shape and spiritual nutrition, and all this stuff that goes around being in a good shape for that race.
Erm, Doctor Neil T. Anderson is an amazing, erm, preacher from the from, the USA. He's really good. Erm, we were really privileged, many years ago, to hear him, Live, speaking at, er, an event in the UK called Spring Harvest.
And he was, er, talking about his Freedom in Christ course, which is, I can highly recommend. It's fantastic. Go and look that up. Freedom in Christ ministries, from the US, Doctor Neil T. Anderson. It's fantastic.
However, one of the things he was talking about is recognising pain as a good thing. Because he said that sometimes we think pain is, we, we just work through pain. We take paracetamol, or ibuprofen, or painkillers, and we can get through the pain. But sometimes that pain is really important.
Pain can feel like it's stopping us. It can feel like that physical wall, and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. But he was talking with reference to having a stone in your shoe, and how good it is that we can feel pain in our feet.
Because when that stone gets in your shoe, you feel it as the pressure mounts, as you put your foot down on the ground. And in between your shoe, and, and the foot, is this little stone, this little pebble or whatever
And overtime that hurts, and we adapt our foot. And eventually we do one or two things. We either ignore it and carry on, and theoretically could be crippled in our foot. Or we stop. Get rid of the sh, er, the shoe off our foot, get the stone out and we can carry on.
But he was explaining how pain is really important, to help us know that there's something going wrong in our body somewhere.
And when we're thinking about beating the wall, we've got to be really careful that the wall is not a stone in our shoe, that we actually need to stop and deal with. And we need to know, is it really a wall, or is it just some clever laser lighting, and some fog,. And you can make all sorts of things appear.
If you've ever watched a film, how often have you seen the comic car chase where someone goes into the, to the tunnel, but it's actually painted on the outside of a brick wall? And they smash into the, the, wall thinking it was a tunnel? Well, that's an impenetrable wall. You can't get through it!
And we're going to have those in our life. Those things where we simply need to get rid of the wall. Take a sledgehammer to it, or go around it, or perhaps even turn around.
And God does this for us. He puts walls in our lives.
God doesn't want us to sin or have sin, habitual sin lifestyles. He, He doesn't want that. He wants us to be sin free. That's why he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross. So that we could get past the sin issue and go to heaven.
How do we do that? Well, we have to surrender to Jesus Christ. We have to believe in God. We have to exercise faith. We have to believe in the resurrection and the death of the Lord Jesus. Christ. And that's part of how we come to faith, and how we get round the sin issue.
But the sin issue stops us getting to heaven.
That's why Jesus went to hell to defeat sin once and for all!
When we think about the exercise that Paul so often used as analogies and metaphors, we think of endurance, which is what we call this, erm, very programme we, we put out every week. It's endurance because we need to endure. And part of breaking the wall, and beating the wall is about enduring, and learning that you can do more than you can think you can do.
If you think about armed forces, anywhere in the world. One of the things they have to teach, and train them is how to get past the wall. OK, you think you're tired, you're done and you're exhausted.? Keep going! And overtime the people who are learning this stuff, learn that their bodies can do more than they thought they could. What they were feeling, is wrong. It may have been true to some extent, from a certain perspective, but actually they realise they can do far more. They're just got to get past that wall.
And it's really important we don't give up for the wrong reasons. It's really important that we can identify is this a wall where I just need to stop and have a drink?
Do we need some rest? Do we need some food, some energy. Or is this a wall that I really shouldn't go through? That, that stone in the shoe, that something, that stops us from doing something stupid.
And when we think about, erm, sinning, God has put a wall around us to protect us, and it's called the Holy Spirit. And it's called conviction.
When we're doing stuff that is bad, and is wrong, we feel convicted. Now we can choose to listen to that, or we can choose to ignore it. If we choose to ignore it, we're going to walk on that stone in our shoe. And we can become quite badly crippled, so to speak.
Or we can hear the conviction and think 'I'm not supposed to be doing this'.
And that's what we need to do.
In Galatians 6, let me read this again:
"Let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we will reap".
One of the hardest things as a, as a Christian, erm, is to keep going when all around you tells you to give up. When everybody says you're hopeless. You're no good.
I've had that most in my life. My childhood, and my adult life, people will say to me, yeah you, you're rubbish, you don't, you can't do that, no you you're stupid, what are you even thinking, you can't do that, go away!'. I've had that most of my adult life. Most of my childhood life.
As a child, I learned to ignore it.
As an adult, I had the really great training of being a worship leader in a church. You get very used to people saying you're rubbish, and can't do things, sadly. Erm, so you develop an ability to ignore it and to go back to God and say Lord, what, what is it you're asking me to do? These people are saying this, and I'm not sure it's true, but what does your word say? What do you say?
And we need to listen for peace or a conviction to say that we're right or wrong, or we're getting it good or bad. And that's how we, kind of, make decisions.
But we need to understand. Is this something we've done wrong? Are we doing this badly? Are we convicted? Are we guilty, and that's probably the devil. Or are we convicted? That's the Holy Spirit saying this isn't my best for you, says God.
Let's come back to this 2 Corinthians chapter 4, because when we're thinking about beating the wall, there is such a good reason to keep going through those walls that we can get through. And we see this littered through these, this piece of scripture. Verse 7 through verse 18. Take a look yourself, take some time, just read it out. Look through, there's so much richness in here that reminds us of the prize. We're in a race. We see that in Hebrews 12, 'run the race marked with perseverance.' We see in here the reason for that perseverance being a good thing.
We are treasures, sorry, treasures in jars of clay is what my ESV titles this little passage, and it's quite good:
"For who we live are always being given over to death for Jesus sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh."
Jesus, in our mortal flesh, the, the, the reality of who Jesus are in us, coming through us and out of us.
If you've ever had garlic, and you think you're sweating garlic, it's quite a good analogy 'cos it's kind of true. Erm, but actually we want to be, so to speak, metaphorically, sweating out Jesus. We want the scent, and sweetness, of Jesus to be pouring out of every pore of our body, to people around us, so that everybody knows this person? There's something different, because they love Jesus.
"For it is all for your sake." Verse 15 "for us. So for it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase Thanksgiving to the glory of God".
To the glory of God is important. We're not doing this for our kingdom. We're not doing this so we can have a better life. We're doing this for the Kingdom of God. And, as we read elsewhere in this scripture, in order that it prepares us for heaven.
"For this light, momentary affliction, is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison"
An eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison? If that doesn't give you some encouragement to keep going through that wall, I don't know what will!
I'll say it again:
"For this light, momentary affliction, is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison"
That's about as good as it gets in terms of biblical encouragement, I would've thought.
Beating the wall is not about ignoring pain. It's not about thinking. Oh, I can't do this, so I'm going to give up. It's not about thinking I can get through this because I can, and, I'm, I'm, a man. I'm a woman, I'm, I'm.
Let's not miss that some of those walls may well be that stone in our shoe. That conviction of the Holy Spirit that is trying to get us to realise there's something we need to change, to stop, to walk away from.
But let's also try and listen to the Holy Spirit as He helps us understand those walls that aren't real. Those fake walls.
If you've ever lent on a wall that's made of plasterboard, that hasn't been supported, what's going to happen? You're gonna fall through!
I heard a story a long time ago about an, an elephant, full size elephant, over in India. And this little little, er, tiny, baby elephant grew into a very, very big elephant, as elephant tend to do, and someone observed that the elephant, as a full grown, adult, male, elephant had a tiny little piece of string, tattered and broken, from its leg to this tiny little stake in the, in the floor.
And they said, why is the elephant tied up? And they said, well, it's because we don't want it to, to run away.
And they said, well, that elephant? That weighs a lot! And that little tiny piece of string. I can't imagine it's going to hold the elephant. And that stake looks like it's about to fall out.
And they said, oh yeah, probably! But when that elephant was a baby, it learned, with that piece of string that was stronger than the elephant at that time, that it could only go so far, and it couldn't get away. Now the elephant sees that piece of rope, it knows it can't go any further.
How often are we looking at our legs, and seeing that tiny piece of rope that's tying us to a stake in the ground? All we have to do is go one step further, and it's gonna fall out, or the rope is going to break.
And that comes from understanding scripture.
It comes from understanding that what we're pushing forwards, through, is something God wants us to do.
And that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit helping us, and speaking to us.
Let's make sure that when we're convicted, we listen, like a stone in issue.
And let's make sure that when we see a wall ahead of us, or feel that wall, let's check in with God and make sure that it's a wall, or it isn't. If it's a wall that God wants us to go through.
And if he wants us to go through that wall, of exhaustion, or whatever, He will because His Bible promises us so, He will give you and me what we need to push through that wall.
So, er, a spiritual wall, or, a obstacle, could be, er, as an example, God asks you to do something, but it's outside your comfort zone, so you're too afraid to do it. To overcome that wall, I reckon the best way to do it is to, erm, keep your eye on the prize, that is what Christ did for you on the cross. Erm, it could be heaven, the pearly gates.
But to overcome any wall, the key is, erm, to keep your eye on the prize.
Yeah. And we need to have discernment to know whether a wall is simply a boundary that we need to, er, we need to adhere to, and not go, go past. Or perhaps it may be a wall, an obstacle, that we need to overcome somehow.
And, obviously to do that, we need to have endurance which is, really, the whole point of this, this series.
We need to make sure we have endurance and we push on. Not because of what we're feeling, or, but because of, obviously as you say, the prize. We keep our eye on the prize!
Written by Steven The Dude