Or have Christians been spooked out of celebrating a Part of their rice tradition?

“I’d like to see you gain a few pounds,” I said to our tall, lanky son.

“No way,” he replied. “It would be just that much more to haul up the rock.” Rock climbing had become his latest enthusiasm.

I watched him chin himself, using only his fingertips curled over the top of the kitchen door frame. Then he repeated the process, using only one arm. Finger grips are important in rock climbing and so is keeping in shape. And I was learning as I listened and watched.

The Christian life is a climb. For some, it is a somewhat sloping ascent; for others, it is more like attacking the north face of the Eiger. Christina Rosetti wrote:

Does the road climb uphill all the way?

Yes, to the very end.

Does the day’s journey take the whole day long?

From morn to night, my friend.

For Christians, keeping in shape spiritually and traveling light are important. To keep in shape spiritually we need spiritual nourishment and exercise. We need less to read about the Bible and more to actually read it and study it. Then we need carefully and vigorously to live out what we are taught.

The definition of traveling light may vary from one individual to another. For example, I couldn’t get my work done if I had to carry around a rock climber’s backpack loaded with rock-climbing gear. But most of us need to trim off some excess weight. We have too many social involvements, an overabundance of good but unnecessary meetings. We are on more boards than one person can adequately or usefully serve. Remember the caution to “beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”

Young David refused Saul’s armor when he confronted Goliath (1 Sam. 17:39–40).

Gideon (Judges 7) had to trim down the size of ...

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