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I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for talent reality shows, especially American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.  Some of my favorite parts are the “behind the scenes” moments when we see what really happens as the contestants prepare for the night of competition.  Last night on DWTS, several of the celebrities were complaining (and whining) to their pros/teachers that what they were trying to learn was too difficult saying things like “I can’t do it”, “It’s too much to learn” and more.  Shannen Doherty had asked her teacher to simplify the routine this week because last week the judges said she had not so deftly attempted a challenging routine for her first week out.  Her teacher, Mark, refused, saying, “No risk, no reward.  I’m not dumbing this down for you.  You can do it.”   Len, one of the judges, eventually said after hearing several of these stories that the celebrities needed to “Show up, Keep up and Shut up.”  They almost had to call the “waaaaaambulance.”

There were conflicts to be smoothed out, tempers to cool, moments to try patience, threats to quit, but in the long run each celebrity completed their routine and most of them felt so good about themselves.  They really did do it!  I’m sure they were glad their teachers pushed them and didn’t let them take an easy way out.  Tears of joy.  Embraces.  Smiles and applause.  It was worth it.

Sometimes I joke with my friends, when faced with a difficult task I don’t want to do but know I have to do, that I need to put on my big girl pants and deal with it.  This time in my life as a parent I’m definitely getting “pushed” by God to do that, but I know I’ll be glad in the long run.  No more avoiding conflict.  Enough of the wimpy stuff.  It’s interesting that when the stakes are higher, I’m more willing to plow ahead even if it hurts or scares me or is a challenge.

On this narrow path we’re walking, it’s gonna be hard.  Let’s just get that out in the open right now.  We know that enduring and even purposefully marching through trials produces character and endurance.  Sometimes the only obvious purpose to enduring tough or painful circumstances may be God chiseling away at our old self to reveal the true/new self He has always had in mind.  There will be times, though, on the other side of pain or challenge we’ll see so clearly a beautiful result – a glimpse of the amazing good God always causes to come out of those times for his kids.  Jesus actually told the disciples outright that they’re going to have trouble in this world, people are going to hate them for living for Him and proclaiming truth, and that many of them would be led away to a martyr’s death for their faith.

So what’s the reward?  Simply stepping onto eternity’s path from this earthly one, holding Jesus’ hand and hearing God tell us,  “You did it!  I knew you could.  No risk, no reward.”

My heart echoes the words of a beautiful praise song,

Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession

Give me one glorious ambition for my life:

To know and follow hard after You.

To know and follow hard after You,
To grow as your disciple in the truth.

This world is empty, pale and poor
compared to knowing You, my Lord,
Lead me on, I will run after You.

Lead me on, I will run after You.       by Mark Altrogge

Tears of joy.  Embraces.  Smiles and heaven’s applause.  It is going to be so worth it.

[Jesus said,] “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”  John 16:33  The Msg