Tag Archives: hard

The Least Popular Article I’ve Written

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This will not be my most popular article.

Are you a Christian? If you say yes, then this article is for you. If not, you are welcome to read this because you may get a glimpse into what this life is all about, but you should know that the standard set before us in this article is not for you…not yet. Hopefully, however, you will find that the Savior, Jesus, is well worth whatever it takes to seek Him.

So, are you still with me? Good!

As humans, we have a tendency toward brokenness. If you look at the world around us you will see that we are a broken species living broken lives in a broken environment that we choose broken procedures to try to repair to a less broken status. Because we are a messed up people, then when we do things, by our nature, we mess them up.

This is true of our ability to follow Christ.

We are called to be Christians, but for many people this is merely a moniker, a title that gives us religious clout in whatever circles we desire to reveal that title to others. We are but fans of the One to whom we declared our allegiance when we became Christians.

There is a difference between being a fan of Jesus and being His follower. Unfortunately, since the beginning of Christianity, the majority of people who claim his forgiveness are not much more than fans.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re saying, “not me!” I hope so, but let’s look at the calling to which you were called.

First of all, Sunday morning worship services and Wednesday night classes are not the penultimate experiences of the Christian life. We are not called to worship on Sunday and Wednesday only. We are called to offer our bodies daily as living sacrifices to God. Worship is supposed to come from us all day every day. In many churches the people who do show up barely even sing anyway, and the attendance on Sunday morning is considerably different than the actual church membership roster. However, this is only a small sampling of evidence for fandom.

What have you sacrificed/given up for Christ? When we are called to Christ, we are called to die to ourselves. In fact, Jesus says we must take up our own cross. He wants us to come to Him and die with him. Can you imagine if the new church slogan was “Come and Die”? Would you want to worship with that group? You would if you understood what Jesus was calling you to.

He is not calling you to a life of luxury. If he were, would he have spent his life and ministry with no home and little food? Wouldn’t he have had a great financial base with which to do ministry?

He didn’t really focus on wealth and prosperity. In fact, he said as a promise that if you follow him you are guaranteed hardship as a result. Have you suffered hardship because of Christ? If you haven’t, then are you truly following him the way you are called to do so?

He doesn’t call us to live for him when it’s convenient. He doesn’t call us to live for him when we aren’t at work or school or doing something else important. He doesn’t call us to go on mission trips and to revival weekends. He calls us to live in mission wherever we are all day every day. We are called daily to revival as we seek His will for our lives.

In America, the American dream of prosperity and status has had an open door into the mindsets of our churches, and it won’t be until we rid ourselves of the needs and desires for things of this world that we can truly put our hand to the plow and not look back.

The world is watching. Recently I was told by a couple of different people that the reason they didn’t want to come to Christ is that they couldn’t see that it was doing anything special for His followers. That is sad, and it convicts me on so many levels.

You aren’t called to be a fan of Jesus. You are called to be a follower, and following means going where He would go and where He is calling. He went to the broken and hurting and dirty people of his day. He went to the poor and the lame. He went out into the world and didn’t associate with the religious cliques of his time. He is calling you to follow him there. He is calling you to get uncomfortable for Him. He is calling you out of YOUR life and into HIS.

Jesus knew this would be tough, and he knew you would have to make some hard choices. Some of you may even have to reject your family because you choose Jesus over them. You may have to change jobs or friends. You may have to tell your boss you can’t work at certain times because you are dedicated to something greater (and being with the saints on Sunday is something greater). I know of a farmer who dedicated to God that he wouldn’t work on Sunday even during the harvest, and he always got his crops in…in fact he had a bumper crop from that point forward.

When we follow Jesus the way he calls us to follow, then we can truly begin to live in the Eternal Life He is calling us to.

If you’re not willing to give yourself up in that way, then consider the choice. It’s time for all of us to stop pretending we are one way and living another. Jesus spoke a lot about that too, and he said it to the religious folk of His day.

So, I hope you’re still with me. We have all fallen short of this, but through the grace of Jesus He helps us get back up and continue to dedicate our lives to Him. When you fail, don’t wallow in self pity. Stand back up! Jesus has already forgiven you.

Please share this with your friends who are Christians. Please make changes in your life as you truly seek Christ with all your heart. Let hypocrisy die in us as His Spirit comes alive in us.

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Confessions of a Tough Mudder

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“I will not whine. Kids whine.”

This phrase kept going through my head as I endured the 12 mile, 29 obstacle course in Edna, TX last Saturday.

On Saturday, January 28. 2012, I competed in what is considered “the toughest event on the planet” – Tough Mudder. My experience actually began on Friday as my brother, my son, and I met up with a friend at Brackenridge Park outside of Edna to camp out for the night. The evening was relatively peaceful sitting around the fire mentally prepping for the next day. The challenges began for me at midnight, however, as parties around us began to be increasingly louder. I couldn’t fall back to sleep until after 1:30 am. I was frustrated and tired. “Didn’t they have to get up early and compete too?”

The next morning I woke up around 6 am. I couldn’t sleep, so I walked out to the edge of the lake and watched the sun rise in all it’s magnificence. There’s an old saying: Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning.” Saturday morning’s sunrise was red, and the wind was already starting to pick up speed to its projected 20 mph. It was going to be windy for sure!

We got over to the check-in tents at 8:30, and before I was really mentally ready we were being called to go to the starting line. We were the 10 o’clock group. To even get to the starting line we had to surmount an 8′ wall. It was time to gear up and shut up.

We recited the Tough Mudder pledge amid a barrage of “Hoo-Rah”. Then, there it was, the phrase that stuck with me the rest of the day: “I do not whine. Kids whine”. This would be my mantra for the rest of the day.

The whistle finally blew and we were off. The very first obstacle was a mere 50 yards from the starting line. We had to drop to our bellies and crawl under barbed wire through thick South Texas mud. It had begun. Within the first mile we crawled through mud, climbed over muddy eight foot high walls, jumped off a 15 foot high platform into the lake, and plunged into the frigid waters of “arctic enema” – a box car with ice water. My body was in shock, but I was determined.

We crawled through tunnels, scrambled over mud hills, and ran, a lot. I was prepared for this mentally. Then it happened – we came to an obstacle that wasn’t on our pre-race map. Apparently unbeknownst to us they had to substitute obstacles in place of the hay or fire obstacles. What we had come to was jumping over mud holes increasingly wider with the hopes that we wouldn’t slip or miss our mark. Success!

Then we ran over to a cargo net and climbed over. Then we ran some more.

There were obstacles on this course that weren’t official obstacles. We were constantly watching out for the holes in the ground created by this year’s drought. It would be very easy for someone to twist or even break an ankle by stepping into one of them. There was also a place where we had to drop down a steep embankment into water filled with reeds and grasses. When we got in there we realized that we couldn’t touch bottom. We had to swim, but we made it and scrambled up the muddy bank on the other side helping each other out.

We crawled over and under logs. One time I stumbled upon trying to stand back up after going under a log pile. When I tried to steady myself by holding onto the log I had just gone under I impaled my thumb with two barbs from the barbed wire that was there to hinder going over that log. Blood had been drawn – I was already a tough mudder.

My brother and I spent much of our childhood in the woods exploring every nook and cranny as we blazed our own trails. We climbed everything we could find. When we got to these obstacles we realized that our childhood had develop many of the skills needed to complete the course easier than many of the other people. When it came time to balance or hang upside down we were in our natural element. Navigating through fallen trees would have been a normal afternoon walk for us growing up, but here it was as an obstacle! Sure, we were exhausted, but it was fun!

Our muscles were cramping, but we endured. It was absolutely wonderful to have my brother and my wife running this course alongside me. Their encouragement made this possible. We fed off each other’s enthusiasm to complete each obstacle.

We finally got to the last mile with five obstacles to go. The first was the monkey bars. The rungs were muddy, slippery, and they spun. When I realized that they would spin I put my feet in the rungs and crawled upside down across the span. Success! I wasn’t wet! In my mind I thought I might dry out before the final obstacle, but that dream was short lived. We then had to swim out into the lake and go under a series of barrels. Then we had to swim to the other side. Once on the other side my fears were met. My daughter alerted us to the fact that we would not have to go through one electric obstacle, but two.

After swimming we came to a wooden framework with yellow wires hanging down. This was all a few inches off the ground. The ground was covered with the slush of melting ice. We had to belly-crawl under the wires on the ice. I didn’t want to do it, but this wasn’t called the tough quitter. The first wire shocked me. It felt like someone hit me in the lower back with a hammer. I don’t remember the second hit. All I remember is waking up face down in the mud after a split second. I had blacked out. When I finally realized where I was, I knew I had to get out of there fast. I got hit two more times before crawling out through the mound of ice.

I stood up and gave a primal scream.

Next up was the obstacle called Everest. We had to run up a quarter pipe that was about 15 feet tall. Those who had gone before us were on top waiting to grab the hand of those coming below. My brother had made it before me, so when I attempted it was his hand that grabbed mine. I made it up first try, but only with the help of my brother and my neighbor.

This was it. One more obstacle, and it was the one that struck the most fear in me. There was a framework with hundreds of yellow wires hanging down. Some of them had 10,000 volts flowing through them. We watched as one man went through and got hit with the juice. It dropped him to his face. He tried to get up but couldn’t move his legs. Eventually he pulled himself out with his hands. This was not a good sign.

My wife went first, and God blessed her with a good breeze that caused all the wires to float up just above her back. She didn’t get hit even once. I then ran through, and God decided I didn’t need such a breeze. About halfway through I got hit. It wouldn’t have knocked me down on normal ground, but they were hosing the ground as we were running through and I slipped onto my belly. That was actually a relief. I crawled through to the other side.

Success!

I had completed every single obstacle they threw at me. My wife and I and our four friends jogged together to the finish line, and my wife and I finished this course the same way we had finished the marathon we did together seven years before – holding hands.

We were exhausted and shivering from hypothermia; we were sunburned and sore, but we had overcome! 4 hours, 12 miles, and 29 obstacles had not been enough to take us out. We were tough mudders! Hoo -Rah!

Would I do it again? Yes. It was a feat of athleticism, but it wasn’t something that is beyond the grasp of any normal person. I saw people of all ages and genders and races competing. Two of the competitors that day had only one leg. One guy lost his shoe in the water on the third obstacle and ran the rest of the course barefoot. By doing this, however, I have gained so much in my mind. I have built friendships through this common experience that I would have never had. I got to share this with my wife and brother – both of whom I love dearly. This event was totally worth it.

I cannot describe to you the ins and outs of why it was worth it. All I can say is that I will do it again, and I think you can do it too.

If you want to see pictures of our trip through the muck and mire check me out on Facebook.com/mrjdobbs. I am a Tough Mudder!


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