Curling, Labor Pains, and the Daily Battle

Curling, Labor Pains, and the Daily Battle

Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor . . . Micah 4:10

This winter, a buddy and I, along with our sons, formed a curling team and signed up for weekly curling league. We naively hoped that we would be naturals and hopefuls for the 2022 Olympics. Reality has since set in. We’re terrible. We’ve gotten better, but every week is another lesson in humility. Those who beat us are better because they’ve practiced for years, and if we want to get there too, there’s no shortcut.

This, I think, is Micah’s message in todays’ passage, where he uses the metaphor of labor pains to describe his people’s condition. Since the fall of man, in the garden, birth and life have been difficult. God’s people fail, and he uses trials and discomfort to shape them. Anything good and worthwhile in life does not come easy, but rather requires discomfort and sacrifice to get there. Birth brings new life, but it’s a painful process.

I’ve gotten this wrong. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that because Micah lived before Christ, and that I live after, that I live under a grace that undoes this principle. Grace means that I won’t struggle with addiction anymore. I don’t have to work at recovery because I’m a new creation. Faith means that life is easy now, right?

Forgiveness is absolutely free. Christ has paid the price at the cross. I’ve done nothing to earn my relationship with the creator of the universe. It’s a grave mistake though to think that grace means that I sit back and enjoy growth by doing nothing.

Christ said that as his follower, it’s my duty to daily abandon myself and follow him. In doing nothing, I naturally follow my flawed nature to destruction. Just as doing nothing will not make me a better curler, doing nothing will not grow my faith or keep me sober. The Christian life is a daily battle in which I must participate. Doing nothing is surrender and failure.

In Christ, we have access to the only adequate answer to all of our deepest needs, but it requires our daily choice and effort to live in that relationship. We don’t grow by doing nothing.

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