Whenever I contemplate writing on a subject, usually a little tune is swirling in my head that helps me to get into that subject. I’m thinking of a little ditty that was a big hit on the radio, back in 1962 when I was roaming the streets of Ennis in the eighth and ninth grades. I think the song was titled “That’s Tough.” It goes something like this: (check it out on YouTube.)
What’s tough? Life! What’s life? A magazine!
How much does it cost? It costs 50 cents.
But I only got a nickel! (A nickel!)
Oh – woe – well that’s tough!
Each morning I listen to my lifelong friend and college roommate, Dr. Dick Sisk, deliver a little eight-minute devotional talk on Facebook and he calls his presentation, “Coffee with Doc.” He and wife Barbara have settled in the Memphis area where he was a pastor for many years.
Recently, he was talking about a staple in life called resistance. The word sounds rather laborious and tedious. I almost break into a sweat at the sound of it. Resistance suggests difficulty, onslaught or just plain hard times.
I don’t know about you but my heart, body and psyche tend to resist resistance. It hurts – at the very least, it’s aggravating – and, worst of all, (or perhaps best of all), it moves us out of our comfort zone.
If the athlete is going to excel in his or her sport, the muscles and mind must go through excruciating stress and pain.
To become a scholar, or at least one with a baccalaureate degree, one must labor over books, fill up binders with notes, pay attention in class, “burn the midnight oil” and put their brain to the test.
A mother doesn’t become a great mother by sitting on her couch all day, eating pretzels and watching soap operas. (Do they even still have those on TV anymore?) She attends to her precious offspring: sings to them, feeds them, teaches them essentials of life, plays with them, corrects them and doctors their skinned knees. She pours her entire being into them with the long range goal of shaping their lives into responsible adults who make great contributions to society. But motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Mothers are acquainted with resistance but oh so much satisfaction.
Scripture clearly addresses resistance: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations (various trials) knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting (or lacking) nothing.” James 1:2-4
People consider the pastorate as a cushy job: preach 30 minutes a week, make a few hospital calls and play golf the rest of the time. At least that’s the concept many people have. But, if a pastor is “worth his salt,” he will do as the scripture demands. He will “labor in word and doctrine” for multiple hours each week. He will feed the word of God to the flock of God with the goal in mind of growing them up spiritually. This is not only through hours of study, prayer and preaching, but through living a life of faith before his congregation. It is labor and tears and entails more hours per day – and more stress than most people realize. His day is often earmarked by resistance.
Nothing in life comes easy. It comes with a price, sometimes a hefty price. Life is labor, sweat, toil, tears, frustrations, misgivings, doubts and a whole lot of grit (aka resistance)! Oh, but there are joys, euphoric feelings of accomplishment, friendships, little pleasant surprises along the way and, when you are involved in all of this, there is a label for it. It’s called living.
And when you lie down at night, you hope against hope that perhaps you made a difference for good in someone’s life and was faithful to do what God required of you for that day.
All of this occurs, not when life is a bed of roses but when a little resistance, a little sweat and a little toil occur.
We’re talking “life” here!
Paul Gauntt is pastor of First Baptist Church in Palmer and a frequent guest columnist to the Waxahachie Sun. He is the author of “Highway 84,” which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.