Plodding or planing?

As I ended my day-long seminar last Saturday on the biblical model for the church, I felt my mind moving up into another level. The words came more easily, the phrases were more elegant, the ideas flowed almost flawlessly.

Such a shift into a higher plane of communication occurs rarely. Most times, my teaching plods along. Much mental effort is required to put the points across.

It’s the difference between plodding through the water and planing across the surface.

It happens a little more often when I write, but only perhaps because I write more than I speak.

If I could, I’d choose to do the planing, the gliding, the effortless sailing. To soar with beautiful oratory seems to be the far superior choice.

Life in Christ is just such an experience.

If we could, we’d live a constant mountain-top experience. We’d much prefer to float across this life in physical ease and spiritual depth. We’d much more enjoy the fraternal hugs, the upbeat songs, the inspirational messages, the prayers that sparkle with divine brilliance.

But most of our life in Christ is spent slogging through temptation, through rejection, through slow progress and painful growth. In that daily grind, we hardly notice the strengthened muscles and toned spirit. But gain for God most often comes through the pain of patient plodding.

Because as wonderful as the experience of smooth spirituality may feel, the greater growth usually occurs in the bogs of daily service, in the fog of faithfulness, in the steep climb up the slope of sharing the word of God.

More is accomplished by sitting with an open Bible at a cramped kitchen table than lifting up hands in a glorious gathering of saints.

Both are good. We’d prefer the latter to the former. We feel better on the sunlit peak than in the brambles and tangled vines of the ravine.

But the peaks of spiritual experience make up but a tiny portion of the topography of God’s kingdom.

After we pass through those wide-open gates of the eternal city, we will forever live on the peak of sweet communion, constant praise, and rapturous, easy service to the glorious God in his fullest presence.

But that time is not now.

So while we enjoy those rare moments of higher levels of spiritual experience, like my closing last Saturday, let us gladly plod along in our life in Christ, knowing that the sufferings of this present age will finally lead us into the glory that will be revealed at the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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