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Saturday, January 2, 2010

ENDURING HARDSHIP

                             
     It's the end of December which means that, in some parts of the
country, ski season is in full swing.  For those of you who plan to do some
skiing this winter, someone has composed the following list of exercises to
get you prepared:

~ Visit your local butcher and pay $30 to sit in the walk-in freezer for
half an hour. Afterwards, burn two $50 dollar bills to warm up.

~ Soak your gloves and store them in the freezer after every use.

~ If you wear glasses, begin wearing them with glue smeared on the lenses.

~ Find the nearest ice rink and walk across the ice 20 times in your ski
boots carrying two pairs of skis, accessory bag and poles. Pretend you are
looking for your car. Sporadically drop things.

~ Place a small but angular pebble in your shoes, line them with crushed
ice, and then tighten a C-clamp around your toes.

~ Buy a new pair of gloves and IMMEDIATELY THROW ONE AWAY!

~ Secure one of your ankles to a bed post and ask a friend to run into you
at high speed.

~ Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your
face. Leave the ice on your face until it melts. Let it drip onto your
clothes.

~ Drink several ounces of water (or another beverage of choice), dress up in
as many clothes as you can; now, quickly take them off because you REALLY,
REALLY HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!

~ Repeat all of the above every Friday and Saturday until you're ready for
the real thing.

     When I lived in Boone, North Carolina, I was in an area where skiing is
a popular activity.  There were several ski slopes within a 30-minute drive
of our house.  Before moving to Boone, I had never been skiing before, but
it sure looked like fun, so one year I gave it a try.  Will I do it again?
Reread the list above for my answer!  :-)

     Maybe I shouldn't have waited until I was 40, or maybe I'm just not
coordinated enough (skiing was no problem -- it was the stopping that I had
trouble with).  I just know I spent several hours saying to myself, "People
actually pay to go through this?!"

     Why do skiers endure such hardship?  You would need to ask them that
question, but there is obviously a certain amount of pleasure that they find
in skiing.  If the reward of an activity is not greater than the hardship,
we tend not to continue to engage in that activity.

     Some people, no doubt, wonder the same thing about Christians.  They
don't understand people who make sacrifices, putting others ahead of
themselves, living in a way that brings glory to God, and denying the
"pleasures of life".  So why do Christians endure hardships?  I'll let the
apostle Paul answer that question:

     "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they
also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with
Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Timothy 2:10-12a)

     Again, if the reward of an activity is not greater than the hardship,
we tend not to continue to engage in that activity.  So it's important that
we continue to remind ourselves of the "reward" of living the Christian
life.  If you find that living the Christian life is getting tough, remind
yourself every now and then why you're doing what you're doing.

Alan Smith

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