Monday, March 4, 2013

Running Strong, Part 1

I find the stillness of the morning ideal for hearing the voice of the Lord most clearly.   For that reason I like to get up before anyone else, and in the quiet, commune with Him. Then I walk my daughter to school and from there I often run a few miles around the track.

This has been my schedule off and on for years.  Usually there is scarcely a soul around at these hours.  But this morning, there was a man walking around the track.  I said hello to him as I passed and went on my merry way.  I finished before he did and began my stretching on the bench.  As he passed by he stopped to talk to me.  He obviously felt passionate about what he had to tell me--that people are deceived into thinking all they need do is exercise.  He wanted to inform me that it has to be both diet and exercise.  We chit chatted for a bit, I thanked him, and we went our separate ways.  I know diet is equally important as exercise.  The knowing is not the problem, it's the doing.

But I don't mean this post to be about diet or exercise, but rather in what we say to one another.  

This man did not realize he was on my turf, so familiar to me that it seems like my own backyard.  I had been there for weeks and then he shows up one day, sees me, and feels he needs to instruct me.  Yet, he didn't know me from Adam.  He didn't know that I've been struggling with some deep depression over the last while and that I struggle with emotional eating.  (not that I have any excuse).  Likewise, he didn't know that I do make an effort to control my eating, even though I have days where I fall plunging into defeat.

Why do I mention all of this?  Because I find it an excellent illustration of what we do to one another.  Our lives intertwine at a moment in time and as we pass one another, we are eager to give our advice and rebukes on how life should be lived.  We make assumptions without knowing where the other person is coming from or where they are going.   I'm often guilty of this crime, but I'm seeking to change that.  A twist on the passage from Matt. 6:34 which says in effect, "each day holds enough worry, so why add more to it by worrying about tomorrow," could be, "my life holds enough problems, so why try to fix the problems of another?" 

At the same time, we do need to listen to rebuke and the instruction of others, because no matter how inappropriate or off timing the criticism may be, there is always a measure of truth that we can heed. Yet, how much better to have earned the right to instruct by first establishing a relationship with that person.  We have a much higher chance of our words then being well received. 

That said, when others pose the questions towards me of which they are passionate about, such as, "What are you doing about the starving children in Haiti," or, "What are you doing to stop abortion", or, "Why aren't you adopting children?" my heart is hurt.  First of all, it implies I am doing nothing even though I might be doing something.  It simply may not be seen by them or be done in their way.  Secondly, they have not sought to know me personally and see what does fill my days, or how my resources are spent, or what I believe about the issues.

By the same token, I could turn around and ask them questions about which I am passionate about.  "What are you doing about getting the gospel to the ends of the earth?"  What are you doing about the children who have not been aborted, whom we do have with us, and who live in our own communities, to disciple them in truth?  What are you doing to be involved in your local church and using your gifts to bless the hearts of others?  Are you surrendered to the authority of a local body of believers?"

Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us we are to run with endurance the race God has set before us.  Each must follow the specific path God had called us to run and it may not be the same path He calls another to run.   The man at the track was walking, I was running, doing laps on stairs, and situps on the bench, but I'm sure we sought to achieve the same goals, to get our bodies in shape.  Yet we each held a different calling or passion.

One reason we are commanded to be part of a local body of believers is because we can't do it all.  We need each other, so that together, we can carry out the mandates of Scripture.  My passion will likely not be the same as yours and that's okay.  Each must run the race God has called them to.

We are to strip off the weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  One of my greatest sins that trips me up is the words I say, and the false guilt I feel by the words of others.  We do need to be obedient to the Scriptures, but that might come easier if we simply focused on Christ and on what needs changing in our own lives rather than on what the other guy is doing or not doing. 

How do we run strong?  By "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."  (Heb. 12:2 NLT)

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Jewel. Isn't it amazing how God puts those people in our path to give us the direction and help us see things clearly? It is good advise you cite not to let others lay their guilt on us. Have a happy day today! Mom