Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Run Well While the World Rages On

Fixed with determination, she placed her feet firm at the start line along side seven and eight year old girls. As the siren blew, she sprang forward with the participants, hustling for position. 

By the first bend, her form and the look on her face were fierce. She charged ahead like a warrior. She fell into a steady pace, but then was set back in the transition station as she entered the cycling portion of the duathlon. She bent lower into the wind and embraced the challenge. It was as if she didn’t let the hindrance weigh her down. She pushed on toward the goal and with resolve she would reach the prize. 

After she dismounted from her bike, she began the last, but most difficult leg of the race. She set her eyes on the finish line and with sheer grit she reached forward.

All along the sidelines spectators cheered on the athletes. The goal for every child was to finish the race well. As every runner crossed the finish line, a medallion was slipped over his or her head and shouts of ‘well done’ rang out.

Our community had come together for our annual dualthlon and encouraged active participation and a strong finish.

As the sun warmed up the crisp morning, there were false starts and strong finishes. Weary bodies rose up and soared to the end. Nervous energy and tears of exhaustion were exchanged for courageous endurance and cries of victory.

While the athletes cooled down they were handed nourishment and parents snapped photos, stole hugs and planted kisses on flushed faces.

The whole day was filled with contagious enthusiasm and at the heart of the event was the essence of community. Working together to offer encouragement to those around us to press on to finish strong.

There are many things to hinder us in this race of life. We can be so easily weighed down and entangled.

When we take our eyes off the prize, we lose our footing. That is why we are told in the book of Hebrews to fix our eyes on Jesus. He is the founding leader and the finisher of our faith. He has pioneered and perfected the life of faith. He is the champion who rejoices to run his course to bring us back to God.

This world is aching and groaning. The horrific killings , devastating atrocities, the apparent lack of justice, the wickedness that makes our hearts heave in our chests.

We are called to run this race with perseverance. And the only way to do that is to look to Jesus. The One who with joy set before Him endured the cross. The greatest atrocity that has ever taken place or ever will was when Jesus died bearing the sin of the world. It is also where the greatest victory was won. The head of the enemy was crushed; wickedness will not reign forever.

The Psalmist sang: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and yet mankind has stubbornly turned from God. And as Paul penned in the opening of his letter to the Romans: they have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:23)

They have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie.” (Romans 1:25) Paul continued: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:28)

Paul made it clear to the Roman Christians that we:

“ . . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25)
We do not run this race apart from the grace of God.

Yes, we need to run with endurance. And, we need to fix our gaze on the glory of God and proclaim His name.

The Bride of Christ does not need to wonder if God is good, she gets to be in awe of His abounding goodness.

The Body of Christ needs to speak out that Peace only comes in the Person of Jesus Christ. And it is the peacemakers who “shall be called the children of God”. (Matthew 5:9)

The Church needs to rise up, to suffer for doing good, to spur one another on to fight the good fight of faith, to speak the truth in love, to press on to the end, to reach forward for the prize of knowing Christ.

The Church does not need to prove God exists, but she gets to pour out God’s love because “He abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)

The Church needs to be exhorted with the message:

“ . . . that [we] have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another . . . By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:11, 16-18)
The Church should be the first to show up with love in our hearts, truth on our lips, and arms full of compassion, reaching out with kindness in one hand and care in the other for both the body and the soul.

Let us run onward with perseverance. Let us endure like the witnesses who have gone before us full of faith, and with fierce determination, but driven forward because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts.

We have a race to run. Let us cross the finish line strong with our eyes fixed on Jesus and our hearts full of adoration for Him.

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