Tag Archive | race

Are We There Yet? — The Answer is “NO”

Since we never lived anywhere near any of our relatives, the extended road trip was a way of life for my family.  My sisters and I viewed such trips as a great adventure, particularly when my parents would drive through the night across I-70 (most likely to avoid paying for a hotel room).  The rhythmic thump as we crossed the breaks in the concrete lulled us to sleep in the back of the station wagon; as our parents tried valiantly to keep each other awake, we dreamed of playing canasta with our grandmother or romping with our aunt’s feisty dachshund.  Invariably, we would begin asking THE question long before our arrival at the destination was imminent:   ARE WE THERE YET?   The answer was always “no,” as the car was clearly still moving.  “How much longer?” was usually the next query.  Although our questions began with excitement, they invariably took on a tone of whining as the novelty of three or four days in the car wore off. 

Sometimes I wonder if I have begun to weary God with my incessant complaints about the road I am on.   However, I recently fell into a trap worse than merely complaining about the duration of the journey — the trap of assuming I had ARRIVED, when I definitely had NOT!  My mother warned me many times to beware of anyone who thinks he has a corner on the market, who thinks he knows everything, as that kind of self-assurance leads to self-importance and an unteachable heart.  Little did I realize, that this attitude of having “arrived” can creep into my thinking without my being aware of it.  While there’s nothing wrong with desiring to reach our spiritual goals, we must guard ourselves against assuming we have actually attained them.  As we learn and develop in our understanding of God and His ways, we often fall prey to thinking we know more than we actually do.  The danger in assuming we have arrived is that we will stop in our tracks in that area and automatically fall short of the goal God has for us!

The apostle Paul had much to say about races, roads, and destinations, as well as about our attitude en route.   In Romans 12:3, he admonishes everyone “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”  In Philippians 2:3 (Amplified), he exhorts us to “do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance.  Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].”  That means that there is not a single person on earth who canNOT teach me something.  I have something to learn from everyone, no matter how much I think I know about the Bible, about Jesus, about ministry.  Moreover, as God trains us in His Kingdom ways and the application of His Word, His purpose is NOT for me to get fat on faith.   Instead, the idea is for HIS Presence in me to increase, and for ME to decrease (see John 3:30). 

In fact, God wants me to interact with everyone on a level playing field.  He desires for me to discount even the spiritual “qualifications” and giftings that may be quite legitimate, and even hard-won, in order to focus on Him and the power of His resurrection.  “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  NOT THAT I HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED OR AM ALREADY PERFECTED, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 2:8-12).  God wants us to continually offer up to Him the things we think we have learned, gained, or achieved, and focus on Him, that we may gain HIM and be found in HIM — yet we must NEVER consider ourselves to have ARRIVED in this regard this side of heaven.   If I view myself as knowledgeable or experienced in an area, I immediately become inaccessible for fresh truth and life in that area.  

In Hebrews 12, 1-2, Paul exhorts us to “strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].  He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Amplified).  Father, I ask You to help me lay aside every weight, every self-righteous attitude, every accomplishment, everything I think I know, and empower me to run the race set before me.  Help me look to YOU and not anyone or anything else.  Help me to remain teachable; help me to NEVER consider myself as having “arrived” and thereby fall short of the goal!  Empower me to enjoy the journey!


Making a Beeline?

It seems that I have spent my life in a hurry — in our family, we joke that anything worth doing is worth doing fast!   Of course, we all know that this statement is patently untrue, but we continue to live in a perpetual rush.  You might legitimately ask, “What is the rush?  What are you hurrying for?”  I would have to say that my goal varies, depending on the project at hand, but I must confess that I am a goal-oriented person.  Although I may initially procrastinate, once I have determined to begin, I make a beeline for the goal — whether thoroughly vacuuming the house, cleaning the bathrooms, completing a translation, or preparing a dinner for thirty people.

Lest you think this quality is virtuous, let’s take a look at Psalm 119: 105:  “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”   This verse does NOT say anything about a holy spotlight on the finish line or a clear, up-front illumination of all the hills, valleys, twists, and turns in the road.  Not only has God refused to reveal to me the entire blueprint for my life,  He hasn’t even given me a complete road map for any of the short-term destinations He has set for me.   In fact, I often only sense His nudging me in a particular direction in a sort of incremental way.  He may point me down a path, but, as I prepare to buzz down it as fast as possible, He only sheds light on the part of the path that illuminates the next step or two.   As I take that next step in obedience, He reveals a little more.   He faithfully confirms His Word to my heart and continues to draw me in the direction He has set for me, but I seldom know in detail how I am going to arrive at the destination.   Occasionally, I am not even the least bit certain what the destination actually will look like.

It occurred to me recently that this seemingly cryptic plan of step-by-step guidance is extremely ingenious on God’s part.  First, it prevents me from making my beeline headlong down the path, only to stumble in the dark.  Secondly, it compels me to focus on Jesus rather than the project or goal I assume is my assigned destination.   In Hebrews 12:1b-2, Paul  exhorts us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  The real goal is, after all, JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith — NOT a music ministry or an orphanage or foreign missions, or even a prayer ministry.  The goal is to know HIM and His Presence and experience His resurrection power as we run this earthly race (see Philippians 3:10). 

Father, deliver me from undue haste and impatient clamor.   Help me to be content with the revelation of Your light and Presence along the path.  Help me to experience and enjoy Your resurrection power and the wonders of Your Presence with me as I step into the light You shine on my path.  Empower me, Lord, to take the next step and savor it!  Deliver me, Father, of forgetting that YOU are my prize and my destination.