Putting on my spiritual sneakers (part 2)!

Posted: 25/06/2011 in God
Tags: , , ,

In considering our spiritual marathon I believe it is important to prepare ourselves for the run, pace the journey and have times of refreshment.

Pace

The goal of a marathon is to compete against other runners to get to the finish line. Spiritually, while we are running for the finish line we are not competing against one another but against everything the world throws at us. A marathon is a long run, it is about endurance over a long distance. They are run on various terrains and can take hours to complete, compared with a sprint which is generally on flat ground over a short distance where the runner goes all out from start to finish. In order to complete a marathon good pacing is required and pacing is not just about “slow and steady wins the race” but about knowing when to speed up, slow down, walk or even take a break (although professional runners may beg to differ). If the aim is to complete the race there may be occasions where stopping is required or sheer exhaustion will set in. During my school years, my best friend and I used to run five kilometres during our lunch break over ridiculously steep hills. We learnt that going up the hill requires a slow, steady jog or even a walk and going down was a lot easier. However going down is not necessarily about making up for lost time. If you go to fast it would be easy to fall and hurt yourself. This also applies to the type of ground you are running on.

Spiritually speaking we need to pace ourselves. It’s easy to “go all out for Jesus” by getting involved in every activity the church offers and serving in multiple ministry areas. However time and again I’ve seen people burn out and resent the church or worse still, resent God, because of exactly this type of unhealthy zeal. It can also effect our personal relationship with Jesus. If we are so busy running as fast as we can that everything becomes a blur, how focused can we be on him? I am certainly not against service, I think it’s vital for the growth and functioning of the Church but it’s important to be prayerful and wise in how and where we serve. It’s not about the sneakers we wear (what others think) or being adrenaline pumped (how we feel)!

I said earlier that running on a narrow path is not easy and we will face challenges that we wouldn’t on a broad and easy path. It’s so important to pace ourselves and watch our footing; to be aware of where there are hills, valleys, rocky areas and cliffs. Astonishingly we can rely on God for help and guidance, he will not let us run this narrow path alone. He promises to give us the feet of a mountain deer (Hab 3:19) so that we will be able to run across any mountain we face on our marathon. He promises to watch over us and “…not let our foot slip…” (Psalm 121). But He also leads us into times of rest. God wants us to be still and think about Him (Ps 46:10). We can’t be still and run at the same time and perhaps there are things we are not going to learn about God while running. He also promises to give us rest when we’re weary (Matt 11:28-30) and this leads me to the last point. 

Refresh

Perhaps the most important aspect of running any marathon is ensuring we are refreshed. When a person runs, they lose fluid through sweating as the body tries to maintain a normal temperature. If it’s a warm day they will lose even more. Our bodies contain 70% water and so it is vital we replace what we lose otherwise we may become dehydrated. On top of this when marathon runners don’t keep adequately hydrated, especially on hot days, they are at risk of developing rhabdomyolysis (muscle meltdown) a condition that can be serious. The simplest way of preventing these conditions is with enough fluids. How true this is for us spiritually. It is easy to become spiritually dehydrated or worse still develop unhealthy spiritual conditions that can cause many unwanted and preventable problems in our Christian run. How do we then prevent this, we drink in the Spirit of God.

Jesus said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive” (John 7:37b-39). When a person is born again through repentance of sin, belief in Jesus and acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord of our life, the Holy Spirit comes into them (John 3:1-21, Acts 2:38-39). The filling of the Spirit, I believe, is different and refers to an ongoing process. In the above verse Jesus uses the word “rivers” in regards to the Holy Spirit. A river is not still, it is continuously moving.  In Ephesians 5:18 we are told to “…be filled with the Holy Spirit …”. The original Greek structure of this sentence indicates that this is a continual process and not a once off and this was seen happening to those in the early church (Acts 2:4, 4:31). The Holy Spirit has many functions, one being to comfort (John 14:8). This implies refreshment! God knows where to lead us to get that refreshment as “…He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides still waters, He refreshes my soul…” (Psalm 23:2-3a). In the same way a runner uses a sports drink to refresh themselves with the electrolytes needed, the Spirit of God empowers us to run the race, doing along the way, what God has called us to do. If we are not being filled with the Holy Spirit how do we expect to run? We are more likely to plod along, exhausted and frustrated.

We don’t have to fear this race nor do we look to the mountains as impossible to cross or the valleys as to terrifying to pass through. We are not alone in this marathon; we follow Jesus and are led by the Spirit. We prepare ourselves and it doesn’t matter if we’ve been running a while or just starting out, it’s never too late to prepare for what’s in front of us. We pace ourselves knowing that there will be challenges ahead and we refresh ourselves with the Holy Spirit again and again and again. And how jubilant we’ll be when we run up to the throne of God to receive our crown of righteousness and like the apostle Paul, say “…I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…” (2 Tim 4:7-8).

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  1. […] Putting on my spiritual sneakers (part 2)! (melsmind.wordpress.com) […]

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