Friday, August 3, 2012


I slowly push Baby Ella in the swing while watching Josh play on the other side of the playground. I'm transfixed as I watch my little two-year-old show more determination and brute resolve than possibly ever before in his short life.

This particular playground has a rather unique feature on one side: a hill where the grass is completely worn away to the hard dirt underneath, and at the bottom, a whole bunch of old, beat up, slightly falling apart ‘vehicles’. These vehicles were likely donated by some neighborhood parents, are all in kid’s sizes with varieties ranging from big plastic four wheelers, to plastic cars, to one little three-wheeler bike designed to look like a motorcycle.

It was this motorcycle that captivated my son.

I watch as Josh, again and again, slowly drags this motorcycle up to the top of the hill, climbs atop, then zooms down. The dragging to the top part is cumbersome, awkward and time-consuming. But the momentary ride down – his face says it all - is nothing short of thrilling.

As difficult as it was to get this motorcycle up, the prize awaiting him made it worth the effort. It struck me afresh how we people, toddlers and adults alike, really are wired to pursue those things which bring us pleasure. If we treasure something, we’re willing to labour and sacrifice to obtain it.

Joshua prized that three-and-a-half second motorcycle ride to a great enough degree that he was willing to repeatedly complete the grueling task of hauling up the bike.

I’m blessed and truly thankful to have come from, and belong to, a Christian tradition that speaks biblically and continually about the truth that salvation comes through faith alone, and nothing of our own work or doing. This is so right and how it should be; Jesus alone is the One who saves and then gives grace  for us to live as we ought. This is a truth that can never be proclaimed too loudly or too often.

And yet, while it is so crucial to never detract from the clarity of His work on our behalf, in my own walk with Christ, I desperately want to me more like my two-year-old dragging that motorcycle. I want to be willing to strive more, to work more, to struggle to put sin to death, to painstakingly pursue my God. I want to be willing to stand and fight, not to sit down and reconcile myself to a faith that is real, but so often lacking in passion or heart.

There are so many times when I kneel down to pray and find myself unwilling to struggle through two minutes of awkward, distracted prayer to get to that place where my God meets me in power. And yes, I’m thankful for the truth that God is with me, hearing me, loving me always, even in those times of distraction and failure. His grace is amazing, and it is rightly central. But it is also true that, throughout the pages of Scripture, the life of a Christian is described as one that is difficult, that takes real, actual work.

But I know this too: there is a reason that the work involved is worth it, for the prize awaiting us is not the momentary thrill of any thing that we can see. The prize awaiting us, in this life and the next, is Christ Himself.

And so our climb, however cumbersome or painstaking, it really is wholly worth it.
In your glorious presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.