Running the Race


I like racing analogies.  I’ve been running (intermittently, albeit) since March, and have developed quite a love for it.  Though I’m sad to say I’ve been slacking the past while.

And so with the Olympics having started this week, and this week’s Camp Pastor talking about Olympians and the drive that it takes to finish well, and using Paul’s writing (which ties in a lot about the Olympics of old… we can assume Paul was an athlete, or at the very least an athletics enthusiast), I’ve been quite attentive.

Except for this morning during Chapel.  But that was a different story.  There was a Chipmunk in the Chapel and he kept running nilly willy and distracting me.  Silly Chipmunk.

So this morning we talked about Philippians 3:12-14, and Hebrews 12:1-4.

“12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is head, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 3:12-14)

“1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [the previous chapter is the ‘by faith’ chapter, which outlines various Biblical heroes who suffered and died for their faith], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  3 Consider him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb. 12:1-4, explanations in brackets added)

“31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa. 40:31)

Running.  You can’t do it without practice.  It takes training.  For any given period of time, anyway.  How do we train?  Essentially, spend time in the Word.  Spend time with God.  Spend time in Prayer.  We don’t run to gain Heavenly citizenship, but we run this ‘race’ because we’re citizens of Heaven already by our faith in Jesus.  We can’t join it in the middle of the race, that’s not how it works… and we can’t quit.  We have to start at the beginning.

At this point, I got wildly distracted again.  And this is the reason that I’m even blogging this, because I feel that my own thoughts on the matter are thin, and I don’t need to just blog a sermon done by someone else without my own commentary.  So here is my commentary.

Did anyone watch the Opening Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics this week?

Has anyone else yet conjured up images of Mr. Bean running a race?

Well, if you haven’t, allow me to show you where my mind went to make application this morning during Chapel.

http://www.diretube.com/london-2012/mr-bean-opening-ceremony-london-2012-olympic-games-video_4ebb98e79.html
Watch.  Laugh.

Basically, what the summation of this morning comes down to is …. realize that you haven’t won the race yet, you have to keep going, and it’s continual.  Fix your eyes on the goal.  You can’t win if you’re not goal-focused.  And forget the things that are behind you that will hold you back.  Don’t turn back to see where others are behind or around you, you do YOUR best… run with everything you have.

But there are two things that I really wanted to blog about today.  I don’t know that I want to write a totally separate post though, so I figure if I make a break in the middle and just explain that, you’ll all follow my train of thought.

Here is thought number 2.

Fear.

My Bible is a Worship Bible.  It has excerpts from various worship songs in it and it has 36 of these “My Beloved” letters, that are love letters from God, compiled based on scriptures around that section of the Bible.  This morning during Chapel, our Worship Leader read this one, and it’s been tying in with a lot of what’s been coming out of Ann Voskamp’s book, as well as my own meditations and thoughts.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Fear shows an utter lack of trust in God, who has proven Himself nothing but trustworthy on every occasion ever since before time began.  So if you’re afraid, essentially, you lack faith.  That’s what I’ve been learning.  It sure makes me rethink letting myself freak out over such things as impending teacher strikes and mortgage payments etc. etc…. I need not worry.  That’s not what I’m here for.

Let me share with you the “My Beloved” section that our Worship Leader read this morning.  We have the same Bible, so I was able to follow along with great ease.

Have no fear of sudden disaster.  When it comes, proclaim that I am your Refuge and your Fortress, your God, in Whom you place your trust.  Then I will save you from the impossible places . . . places where death is waiting to take you.  I will cover you with my feathers, and under My wings you will find refuge.  I will protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of deliverance.

I will demonstrate my faithfulness to you and to those around you.  The knowledge of My love for you will protect you physically and emotionally.  And when you have discovered this shelter . . . stay there.  You will always be safe if you do what is righteous and speak the truth from your heart.

You will no longer fear the terror that night brings, nor the violence that walks the streets, nor the evil that stalks in darkness, nor even an untimely death.

I will command My angels to guard you in all your ways.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  I alone will cause you to dwell in safety.  For I am your God.

taken from Ps. 4:8; 15:2; 32:7; 91:1-6, 11; Pr. 3:23-26.

How can anyone not want that?  I choose today to go forward renouncing fear and clinging to those promises.  Makes much more sense to me.

In One Thousand Gifts” Ann Voskamp recounts this:

“All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends.”

“Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is not going to be enough. . . “

When I really examine that notion, I know that fear is a lie.  Fear is not from God.  Fear is useless, it is stupid, and it is a ridiculous waste of time.  But I’d never taken it to the point in my own mindset where I’d concluded that fear would be blasphemy.  But if that’s true, that fear is the notion that God’s love ends…. that means the Bible is wrong when it says that God’s love never ends.  If that is true, that God is finite, then the Bible is wrong when it says God is infinite and omnipotent and omnipresent.  I can’t stand behind a Bible that doesn’t tell the truth… and so I have to look at myself and understand that it’s myself, my own stupidity, that misconstrues it and tells me it’s ok to be afraid every once in a while.  It’s not.  It’s really, really not.  When you put it that way, that being afraid is saying God is finite and it means that His love ends and that I would think there isn’t going to be enough of something… talk about trust issues.  What a slap in the face.  No thank you.  I don’t want to live like that.

Let the fear be gone.

Yes.  Everything I want is on the other side of fear.  I saw this picture posted to Facebook the other day, and snagged it because I loved the picture.

But it’s not just everything I want.  It’s everything I need that’s on the other side of fear.  Nothing good is accomplished or achieved through fear.  There are many things in this life that I can’t have if I’m afraid.  And if I can just get past that fear, which I can only do with God’s help, who can stop me?  Why do I need to be afraid of anything?  I have more power, more strength, more sheer Goodness on my side than those who don’t know God, so what’s the point in cowering?

47.  Crashing thunder.

48.  Rain falling from the sky.  Pouring down.  However brief, hearing it on the roof.  Pounding.

49.  Light days in the office that afford me some time to do my own thing.

50.  Laughter.

51. Finding common ground in struggles of the heart.

52.  Joy in the small things.  Surprising joy.

53.  Our brains.  Sometimes I’m amazed that I can even read, nevermind write for others to read.

54.  The freedom to be fearless in Christ.

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