Some days, usually Mondays when I have had a couple days off the elliptical machine, I do well, finishing my chosen program two or three minutes ahead of schedule. Other days I just plod on through until the programmed timer goes off and I notice that I was a quarter mile short of my programmed distance. But I got it done. I sweated and I panted and my muscles burned for the allotted amount of time. Mission accomplished. Maybe I will live an extra day because of it.
Some Sundays I have no trouble at all keeping my mind on the worship. I am full of spiritual pep and vitality. I sing with gusto and listen attentively to the classes, prayers and sermons, even making connections I never had before, priming myself for more study when I get home. Other Sundays it’s all I can do to just be there. My mind is as lethargic as my body. I hear, but I don’t really comprehend. When I leave I wonder if it did me any good at all. Surely God is upset with my poor showing that day.
Is He? If the day was difficult, but I made it anyway; if it was a struggle to worship “with the spirit and the understanding;” if the “all” I had to give was very little, was my service to God a failure? I don’t think so. We have no trouble understanding the concept of the widow’s mite in a literal way. She gave all she had that day, and Jesus praised her for it. Some days the spiritual mite is smaller than others. If I give it all, why isn’t that what God expects of me? Won’t God be pleased that I still tried as hard as I could with far less available than usual? If God goes by effort, I worked harder that day than on any day when it was easy, didn’t I?
And if this sort of thing worries you, if you find yourself thinking you have failed because you weren’t at your spiritual peak, then you have certainly shown the heart of flesh that God told His people He wanted from them. You didn’t feel like it, but you still obeyed God’s instructions in your service. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, Ezek 11:19-2. Obedience in spite of it all—that’s the heart of flesh. A hard heart can shout amen and sing the rafters off the roof in the middle of blatant disobedience. God made it clear which He prefers.
By the end of an exercise week I am really dragging. My legs feel like lead and my lungs seem starved of oxygen. But I still go at it and get it done. It still does my body the good I intended. If you are dragging at the end of some spiritual interval, a time that might have started out with all the vitality you could have wanted but gradually wore down, just keep on plugging. The energy will return and you will be back where you want to be. It does not mean that you are not where God wants you to be.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isa 40:28-31.