In the late 1970’s, Kim Lineham, an 18-year-old young lady, was putting an enormous amount of work into her swimming career. On August 19, 1979, at the AAU Nationals, Kim broke the world record for the women’s 1500-meter freestyle. How did she achieve this success? Her coach, Paul Bergen, stated that Lineham did endless exercises and swam 7 to 12 miles per day. In an attempt to gain a better understanding of the rigors of such training, Kim Lineham was asked what was the hardest part of her regimen. Her response, “Getting in the water” (Texas Monthly, quoted in Reader’s Digest, June 1981).
It’s amazing that even for people who achieve great success, the hardest part is often just getting started. We want to lose weight. It’s hard to just go to the gym. We want to eat right. It’s tough to make a healthy meal instead of eating out. We want to save money. Yet that newest gadget or clothing seems so desirable and keeps us from saving.
It’s not so different on a spiritual level. We want to pray more. But then we allow the busyness of the day take hold and don’t specifically set up a time. We want to read and study the Bible more. Unfortunately, we tell ourselves a thousand different excuses to keep us from getting started on a consistent basis. We want to talk to someone about the gospel. But then we don’t even take that first step forward and speak to them.
Sometimes I wonder if the reason these things are hard is because they are easy. Let me explain. If God had required that we climb some enormous mountain and proclaim extravagant words at the top, we would do it. If God had asked for us to travel a great distance to obtain and item and bring it back home and dedicate to Him, we would do it. And yet, all God has asked of us is to love Him, obey Him, and continue to pursue a relationship with Him (Luke 10:27). It should be easy, yet in some respects, this is much more difficult to do.
In 2 Kings 5, Naaman was faced with a similar dilemma. He came down with leprosy and was desperate to be healed. The prophet Elisha instructed Naaman to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times to be cleansed (vs. 10). Because of its simplicity, Naaman was very resistant and even angry with this requirement (vs. 11). His servants encouraged him, though, saying, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (vs. 13). So Naaman went to the Jordan as instructed and was healed (vs. 14).
Let’s not let the simplicity of God’s commands deter us from obedience. Just because the request is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy to do on on a consistent basis. Like Lineham, let’s tackle the hardest part and just “get in the water”! Set a plan. Carve out the time. Let’s do whatever it takes to build and keep our relationship with God going.