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The Strength To Strength Principle

As the whistle blew we knew it was the end of practicing but not the end of practice. Coach Don Nehlen would raise his four fingers and say "Gentlemen, it's now the fourth quarter," and we would begin a long period of conditioning. When the whistle would blow again we knew it was time to run to the stadium for a long session of running up and down the stadium steps. As the season progressed more rounds of stadium steps were added to the point where we knew that no matter what the conditions we faced on a football field would be, we could handle it. His reasoning was quite simple when it comes to physical conditioning; push the body to the limit, let it rebuild, and push it a little farther the next time resulting in the increase of strength and confidence. You can call it the principle of going from strength to strength.

The principle works because it's actually God's principle of training. He trains us for the difficulties of life as we learn to rely upon His strength. The place we learn to rely upon His strength is in the valley experiences of life when we are forced to "look up" for help. As an athlete forces himself or herself to go a little farther, faster, or take on more and more resistance they know they are building strength and endurance for something more difficult down the way, so our spiritual experiences go.

God in His mercy of knowing what is down the road for us, takes us through difficulties and valleys along the way to grow in our strength, which is really growing in our relying upon His strength to flow through us. Psalms 84:5-7 (English Standard Version) Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Put yourself in the passage above:

1. You are blessed when you find your strength to be in God. Philippians 4:13 (ESV) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
2. When you go through the valley of Baca or weeping, you find it to be a place of rebuilding and empowering as God provides unique
refreshment in the valley.

Isaiah 40:29-31 (ESV) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
3. The result is an increase in your strength. It's the same strength to strength principle as physical training.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
4. It pleases God for us to increase in strength because that increase in strength is found in relying more and more upon His strength and seeing His strength flow through us.

It's the principle of letting go of our pride and our attempts to control and seeing God handle the situation for us, through us, around us, and in us.

God in this sense is a gracious coach who knows exactly what is on the horizon of our future. He is preparing us as my old football coach in college prepared us using the ?strength to strength? principle of pushing us to our limit, helping us rebuild, and doing it again. Our confidence grows as our strength grows. Our strength grows as we grow in our dependence upon Him.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?"

Bob Brubaker

Bob is a teammate and the huddle leader for the Clearwater, FL and the pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church, Clearwater,

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