Every year around this time I go archery hunting for deer and elk. For the last five years a new problem has arisen. When I start practicing, usually I start around the first of August, I can’t pull my bow back. I seem to be getting weaker as I get older. You probably knew without me telling you that if you can’t pull your bow back, you won’t be killing an elk or a deer; that’s just the way it is. My bow has an adjustment for poundage built into it. I can turn the screws back until the bow is at 40 lbs, or I can tighten them up so that the bow is at a max of 70 lbs. I have been hunting with the bow adjusted to 62 lbs for the last five years, but as I have already stated, when I first start shooting 62 lbs is to heavy for me to pull. So I lower the poundage of the bow to it’s lowest, 40 lbs, which I can pull easily. My goal is to shoot 50 shots each day as I get ready for hunting. Every day I turn the screws on the bow one complete turn which increases the pull by 2 lbs, so in 11 days I am back to 62 lbs. I did that today, in fact, I increased it by two turns, and I am now up to 64 lbs. I have 10 more days left until hunting season starts so I might be able to increase to the maximum of 70 lbs. That would be cool, I would feel like a young man again.
The method that I use to get stronger is to shoot 50 shots every day, and to increase the poundage gradually. It is pretty simple to understand my method and even simpler to do. Even though it is simple, it is not easy. I have to get up and go outside and shoot 50 arrows. When I first start, I have to divide the 50 into three times shooting 17 shots with at least 30 minutes in between each group to let my muscles recuperate. And I have to keep increasing the difficulty each day. Today, because I increased by two turns, four lbs, I could only shoot ten shots before hitting the wall, so I have to interrupt whatever I am doing and go out and shoot five times with at least a 30-minute break. It is easy to find an excuse not to shoot, to skip a session or even a day. “One day won’t matter, I can make up for it the next day.”
I use the same method to grow my Christian character and faith. I faithfully practice the basic disciplines of the Christian life every day. And I usually increase each of them at least yearly. I read 14 chapters in my Bible every day. I used to read three chapters every day, enough to get through the Bible in one year. I increase the number of goals that I am pursuing by one each year. I spend 40 minutes each day memorizing scripture; I used to spend five minutes each week. I also add disciplines periodically to increase the pressure and difficulty of pressing on to maturity. A new discipline that I added a couple of years ago was reflective writing about my weaknesses, character flaws, sin habits, and blind spots, and I write about my strategy for conquering them.
God loves to give His strength to His disciples, but He doesn’t give His strength to lazy disciples.