Back on the Log: Finding Discipline in Grace, Truth, and Daily Steps

Have you ever fallen off of the log? You know what I’m talking about. That New Year’s hype is over. You may not even remember what those goals were. Your life/work rhythms are off kilter.

Maybe you’ve stopped reading your Bible every day.

Maybe you stopped being intentional about the food that is fueling your body.

Maybe you are paying a gym membership without actually reaping its benefits.

For the past few years, I developed a strong workout routine. I was kickboxing an average of 3 days per week. I had energy, and I was eating healthy foods. Then, I had an interruption to my routine.

Shoulder pain.

I hate even saying those two words.  They make it sound like I’m getting old. Anyway…

That shoulder pain knocked me off my log. For a couple of months, I stopped working out completely. But even worse…I let all the healthy habits dissipate. I ate all the things. I allowed work to consume my thoughts and time. I decreased my writing time…

Maybe someone else can relate.

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9: 24-27, NLT

Sometimes I need that gut punch scripture to straighten out my thinking. 

Discipline.

As a parent and educator, I know the importance of discipline. It’s easy for me to counsel teachers and parents. I know strategies to support children with developing discipline.

But, do I allow the Word to counsel me? Am I disciplined? Or am I a hypocrite?

True answer…I’ve been a hypocrite. I’ve talked the talk without walking the walk.

Discipline is not easy. If you are listening to counsel that says it is, don’t believe them. To “run with purpose in every step” is exhausting. It is hard work. Training takes time and effort.

Pause for a minute. Where have you fallen off the log? What are your supposed to be “training” for?

While I am training to get my health back on track, we all should be training to grow our Christian walk. It’s hard. Creating rhythms that allow us to grow takes work. But, in the words of Paul, we aren’t doing the work to get firmer abs, we are doing the work for the “eternal prize.”

(Note: I am in no way saying that by our discipline we earn our salvation with Jesus. He has already done all that work on the cross. It is finished. You can do nothing to earn your salvation with him. I am saying our self-discipline grows us in our relationship with the Lord. This growth has an eternal impact, and that eternal impact is not only on us but on everyone we encounter.)

So how do we stay on the log? Shew! I wish I had that answer. Today, as I was in the gym, I considered a few things:

1 – Grace. I did have a shoulder injury. It was a minor setback. I did fall off the log. Consider Peter denying Jesus, as Jesus was being arrested. I am sure Peter experienced the “falling off the log” moment. Yet, Jesus showed him grace (see John 21).

2 – Truth. Regardless of what we do or think, truth never changes. I can always trust in God’s Word. When I fall off the log, truth remains. If I allow it, truth can provide the course correction I need.

3 – Discipline. While hard, discipline requires us to take small step after small step. Habits are not formed by completing a behavior a couple of times. Habits come from steady, daily, consistent action. It’s not flashy. It’s not an event. One step, one day, one decision at a time.

As I figure out how to get back on the log, I will rest in grace, hold onto the truth, and take the steps to grow in self-discipline. It won’t be easy. But shadowboxing won’t make us stronger. Let’s commit to the discipline that will grow us closer to our Creator. Let’s commit to seeking that eternal prize.



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