So, confession time. About 2 years ago I took part in a triathlon, it was a sprint distance tri and it was awful. I consider myself to have incredible explosive power, pushing something, pulling something, or lifting, but physical endurance strength is, well just not something I’ve got. (yet)

This year I signed up to do a half Ironman tri, building on the last one and raising the bar. The point of this was to raise a £1k for the CVM coffers.

I realized early on that I had made yet another terrible mistake and had chosen to ignore that small inner voice of reason and logic. In the end, after trying to get in shape and go from virtually no running, cycling or swimming ability I had to reluctantly throw in the towel.

This was actually a tough decision to make as I had worked hard at training but just hadn’t realized the investment needed and time it would take to get me anywhere near race fit.

The point in sharing this is, that I think we can also go into the ‘Christian life’ in a similar way, without a clear vision and commitment to the cost this is going to have. We can even sell a version of Christianity that prescribes to the same model, and I have done it. This and the next 3 blogs are going to look at the way you train and count the cost for this Christian race we are in!

• Count the Cost
• Fuel up
• Mind games
• Getting the gear and making this social

So that’s the outline for the next 5 blogs, put that doughnut down and get yourself a dry cracker. Lets train.

When I signed up for the Ironman, I was sold on the trophy, the title and the branding. It looked great and something that would be a great head turner to have in the office when people visited. I can ride a bike, I can swim and I can run so what’s the problem?

What I hadn’t realized until very late on in my campaign of terror on the treadmill, was that to get to the fitness level I needed it would mean a 20 hour schedule of fitness each week. This covered miles and miles, hours and hours of training, and I just wasn’t ready to pay that cost, and it slipped away. Eating the right things, not drinking the wrong things, sleeping early and getting going early. Weekends out running and cycling.

The thing is, I think we can buy into a Christianity that leaves us in the same place. We can discover Jesus and the life he has for us. Forgiveness of sin, a hope for today and an eternal promise of life to come, something after death. Amazing, and wonderfully true! But we can quickly turn that into an emotional, needs based message. Jesus will meet your needs, he will nestle you under his wing and you will feel like your feet never touch the floor.

The reality is, to follow Christ is a call which costs the most. To really die to ourselves and pledge your heart, mind and body, your devotion and obedience to him is actually very costly.

A fantastic old school British evangelist was a guy called Leonard Ravenhill, and once he said this ‘the problem is not enough Christians have been to their own funerals.’

Now that sounds harsh, but his point was that we need to know that Jesus and this new life we have, really is something new, the old has died and gone. To put Jesus and his kingdom first will cost and even Jesus tells people to count the cost before getting involved and possibly falling away before the finish line.

Jesus uses strong words and even says that if we follow him this means carrying our own cross! Jesus explains this a bit by using a couple of everyday examples, here is one of them:

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?
Luke 14:27-29

What does it mean to take up your cross and follow Jesus? What does it mean to count the cost, to really be sure this is for you and that you will not lose sight of the path half way along your life journey with Jesus?

Well, the thing here for me is that this is capturing the reality of what is really at stake. Your life depends on it. My ironman failure caused me a few weeks of ridicule at the hands of my beloved CVM team, but this, this is something very different.

This choice we make will impact our eternity, it changes where you and I will be 10,000 years from now. Jesus makes it so clear that he wants you to be in his kingdom, in his company and to enjoy the place of a son, welcomed back into the family.

Maybe today, just take a moment to think about what the cost of all this is to you. Spend sometime maybe just recommitting yourself to Jesus, your energy, your time, your wallet, your hopes and plans, your family.

Image Credit: Martin Kníže