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I knew a line existed. I knew at some point strengthening would turn to pain. I knew if I pushed too hard, the pain would be back. I didn’t want pain, but I was willing to risk it to find out where the boundary was.

So I pushed. I pushed the limits of my cardiovascular strength. I pushed the limits of my body. And I pushed the limits of my back. I had been pain-free for more than a month, for the first time in years. I felt gun-shy to push it, but I knew I needed to do so.

I needed to push it…to break the bonds of fear of hurting. I needed to push it…to see how far my body could really go. I needed to push it…to be a little reckless.

Getting ready for bed that first night, I felt the muscles trembling from the workout. I knew that, at minimum, I would be incredibly sore the next day. But I didn’t know if my back would hurt.

I awoke on day two, sore but not in pain.

So I pushed it again. And again I readied for bed not knowing what the next morning would bring. More soreness, but so much so that I could not tell if there was pain blooming under the sore.

It would take two days for the sore to wear off enough to know the spinal joint was aching. And aching turned to pain. Yet without shame, I told my physical therapist that I pushed too hard and I was back in pain.

He laughed, said he expected me to try that again, and re-adjusted me…again.

Pushing comes with consequences. The short-term consequences of this particular venture was pain. The slightly longer term consequences are that I am temporarily benched from running, which I so love to do.

But the pushing revealed a weakness. Though I had catapulted through my therapy, surprising even my PT at how quickly I was back to running, the pushing revealed that we needed to spend more time strengthening. Different exercises, increased intensity, decreased impact loading to the end result of eventually running again.

I pushed it again, and it was the best decision I could have made. For now we can go back and buttress the underlying weakness to make way for rock solid strength.

Life with God is the same. He encourages us to leap, to take chances, and push our boundaries. He stretches us, and sometimes we are sore. Sometimes we are downright achy. And other times we end up back in pain, asking for His healing touch. Only by pushing it can underlying weakness be uncovered, that we may be made stronger for next time.

How are you pushing the boundaries of your faith? How has He shown Himself faithful when you do?

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