Coach Gene Stallings (who was a Texas Aggie long before he hooked up with the University of Alabama) likes to tell the story of a young kicker who was struggling in practice.  “Coach, you make me nervous,” he said.

“Son,” Coach Stallings replied, “I’m going to be at every game.  If you’re nervous now, you’re really going to be nervous on Saturday.”

I believe in setting people up to succeed.  I think success is motivational, and that it drives us to greater effort and eventually greater successes.  But there is a mountain of difference between setting people up for success with encouragement and setting them up for failure with false expectations.  If we dumb the test down so far as to guarantee the result we want, real-life challenges that eventually present themselves (and that will not be dumbed down) may turn into catastrophes. 

I am thankful that my Lord gave me the truth, harsh though it may be, about His invitation to walk with Him.  It will be hard.  He likens it to carrying a cross in Luke 9:23; there’s nothing encouraging about that metaphor.  It will cause difficulties in my close relationships (Luke 12:51-53).  I will be persecuted for my faith — and then He will expect me to rejoice and thank Him for the privilege (Matthew 5:10-12).  And then, after He has given me the harsh truth, He tells me to “calculate the cost” (Luke 14:28).  Is the blessing He promises worth the strain?  And then, if I still value what He offers, He says, “Come to Me” (Matthew 11:28).

The life of a Christian is the best life there is.  It is, quite literally, what you were born to do.  But it will be a harrowing experience.  The sooner you come to grips with that, the more equipped you will be to persevere when the real adversity strikes.

Game day is coming, Christians.  Man up.

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