I am truly amazed at how adaptable the human body is. When I was in the Army, I dreaded the PT test. I had convinced myself that I just couldn’t run. Honestly, my lower body has taken it tough over the years, MCL and meniscus tears, ACL replacement, surgery on both feet, dislocated and fractured knee cap, ankles sprained more times than I can count (surprisingly, none of those injuries occurred while falling from an airplane). I used every one of these ailments as an excuse as to why I wouldn’t run. I think it was only my pride that kept me from making it an official condition that would justify me taking an alternate event PT test. So, every six months, I sucked it up and ran two miles and it was awful. I can remember being incredibly sore for days after, despite what I considered to plenty of other exercise in between.
Now, I am running for fun. I actually paid to run in a race last weekend. Even more astounding is that 5K won’t be my longest run this week and I wasn’t sore after at all. So, what happened? Over time, my body has adapted. I didn’t do it all on my own…If you have read my early blogs, you know there was much prompting by the Holy Spirit to get me out there pounding the pavement. I still had to choose to put on my running shoes and head out the door, but I’ve had a lot of help and encouragement along the way.
I can truly point to God as the giver of any success I’ve had at running, because it is certainly not a hobby I would have chosen for myself. So, it was no surprise to me when I realized I didn’t do anything to warrant having run my personal record time in the race on Saturday. I didn’t do anything the guides or manuals say you should do, with the one exception of running with a great Training Partner. In all honesty, I did several things in the week leading up to the race that should have sabotaged my efforts. However, I did ask God to carry me through, and He did. I believe He has called me to run for His purposes and I trust Him to carry me through each step, so I will obey Him.
A couple of years ago you would have heard me say, “A half marathon… Pssshhhhttt! I don’t even like to drive that far in my car!” Today, I am training for that distance with a group of other folks here who have been called to run and pray for the friends and families of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. I have no idea what the end state of my running will be. Will I just run for my health and for that quiet time it gives me alone with God? Will I continue to challenge my mind and body with increasing distances? Will I come to the point, where God calls me to do other things to bring glory to Him?
Not that my running specifically is making me more like Christ, but by trusting and obeying God in this area of my life, I am adapting my thinking to trust and obey Him in other areas. And I can tell you that, the adaptation from being one who does not run to dare I say it, a runner, has been a process. It has not always been fun and the fruits of my labor are often not readily apparent. Sometimes, it has been downright hard. The time it takes me to run 8 or 10 miles could have seemed pretty lonely without God by my side encouraging me. I could simply say that I have changed over the years, but I prefer to recognize this as an adaptation of my mind and body to overcome a weakness through the power of God working in my life.
Change happens. And it isn’t always pleasant, but none of us can stop it from touching our lives. Adapting, however, is an intentional decision laced with the power and desire to overcome, to be a Survivor! You must choose to adapt. You must take the first step by inviting the power of God into your life and then allowing Him to work the adaptation of your heart through the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we have to make a choice to adapt ourselves in order to meet whatever situation life or death throws at us. We have to be willing to let God work in our lives. When we first make the commitment to trust Christ for our salvation, we are asking God to be with us as we “put on the new man, which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24 Sometimes, we have to make a conscious decision to put on the new man each and every morning.
Change can be gradual or can happen in the blink of an eye. Adapting is a process, one that can take a long time to see completion. “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 God’s work with the whole body of Christians will not be complete until Jesus returns to earth. Individually, His work in us continues until we take our last breath here on earth.
Change is ambiguous, shifting like the wind, and often we cannot easily determine which direction that wind may blow. Adapting, has a singular and perfect end state. Paul told the people of Corinth, that because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we are given the hope of His glory. “But we all with the unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 A mind, heart and spirit as similar to that of Jesus as is possible for those of us with human flesh is the end-state of our Christian adaptation. There is no better place to learn about that than in the unchanging Word.
Change can be lonely. In the Army we endure a lot of change. Every couple of years (or even less in some cases) we change home towns. We change schools, neighbors and jobs. As we go through the process of adapting, we have the promise that we never have to be alone. You can “be strong and of good courage,” because God “is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Change can be hard and so can adapting. All of the change that seems to blow through our lives indiscriminately is designed by God to propel us toward our Christian adaptation in one way or another. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 Read, study and renew your mind, feed on the Word of God. Allow God to adapt you by the testing of your faith through these changes, so that you may be made more like Jesus. What God wants for us is His perfection, not that we would fit in with this world, but that we would fit in in heaven.
Adapting to be more like Christ is not necessary for our salvation. Belief is all you need to be saved because John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” The desire to want to be more Christ-like is, however, a natural outcropping of vibrant faith. Just as “faith without works is dead,” James 2:20, faith without a desire to be more like Christ is also a dull and lackluster kind of faith. How can we call ourselves true Christians, yet be resistant to the transformation God desires to work in our lives for His glory?
Are you ready to pray as David did in Psalm 139:23-24 and invite God to begin His adaptation of your mind and spirit? Are you are willing to ask got to search you and know your heart? To try you and know your anxieties? To see if there is any wicked way in you? We are able face any earthly change, test or trial simply by calling on the power of Christ, who has “overcome the world.” John 16:33. Are you willing to trust and obey as He leads you in the way everlasting? Will you heed the call to adapt your mind, your life and your heart to the ways of Christ so that you also may overcome this world and join Him in glory in Heaven? Are you ready to Adapt and Overcome?