What is “His Encouragement?”
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. Since I’m a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning to my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday. We are calling the series, “His Encouragement.”
It is my prayer that these words of encouragement inspired by scripture will help to carry you through the rest of your week My prayer is that this weekly series will be a much needed of reminder that God loves you.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Happy 2019! Can you believe that it is the New Year already? Do you have a New Year’s resolution?
The two most common New Year’s Resolutions are to get in shape and to get back to church. I’ll be honest with you- my New Year’s Resolution is to run my first marathon BUT I’ve already broken my training schedule! Here are we are, almost a month into the New Year, and instead of logging the miles on the treadmill- I’m curled up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a good book (I’m currently reading The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbringer Institute. It’s the book that we are currently using in our small group study).
In Hebrews, Paul encourage us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).” You don’t have to enjoy the sport of running to understand Paul’s metaphor. For many of us, life can feel like a race. Sometimes we run the race well. At other times, we stumble and fall. Sometimes the track is slippery with ice and other times it is smooth sailing. Life has both difficult and joyous moments.
This year will mark my fifth year in ministry. I’m blessed to work with a wonderful congregation. I’m so grateful that they have allowed me to run alongside them in the race of life. My heart has been so full over these past five years that I couldn’t help but sing about it in my very first (although very small) book.
The Importance of Perseverance
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I experienced a serious setback with my running, I had a frightening fall and I hurt my knee so badly that I could barely walk for a few days. It happened one morning when I was out for an early run before my office hours.
I vividly remember the terrifying feeling of the road rushing toward me as I fell. Then, I was on the ground and in so much pain that I was actually crying. Both of my knees felt as if they were on fire and the blood was starting to seep through my pants.
I pulled out my trusty iPhone and called Jeff. I was in tears as I sobbed into the phone, “Please come get me! It really hurts.”
I was over a mile from home. I crawled to the side of the road and waited near the tennis court. I was so relieved to see his car pull up next to me. I did my best to fight back tears as he drove me home.
When we arrived home, my knees hurt so badly that he actually had to carry me into the parsonage (I’m lucky that he is bigger than me!). My left knee was particularly swollen.
At the time, as I sat on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on my left knee, I felt broken and dejected. Maybe the critics and naysayers were right. Maybe it was a bad idea for a woman with low vision to run.
“I don’t think I want to run anymore,” I said to Jeff as I shifted the bag of frozen peas that I was using as an ice pack from one knee to the other.
“First of all,” he said with a smile, “that is a waste of a perfectly good vegetable. We are going to need to buy some ice packs the next time we are out shopping. Secondly, don’t be so melodramatic. You know you’re going to run again.”
“No,” I sniffled, “I think I will just stick to the treadmill. It’s safer.”
“Whatever,” he said with a shrug. “Think whatever you want. But I know you- you’re not a quitter.”
Well, it’s a New Year and (surprise!) Jeff was right. You may remember earlier this week when we had some lovely warm weather. After weeks of running inside on the treadmill, I at last put on several layers and ventured outside. I was having a fairly good vision day and the weather was beautiful.
Friends- I ran for miles! I ran right past the spot where I had fallen down in November and didn’t look back. This was an important lesson for me to keep in mind as we stride together into a New Year.
Striding Together Into 2019!
I knew that I was getting old this New Year’s Eve because I was barely able to stay awake until midnight. As soon as the ball dropped, we were ready to call it a night! Even so, we took a photo in order to document the beginning of 2019.
By the time that you read this, you may have already made your New Year’s Resolution. If you’re anything like me, you may have also already broken that New Year’s Resolution. I’ve read six books so far in January but I haven’t run nearly enough miles!
I want to let you know that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s not our mistakes that are important. Jesus died to wash away our mistakes and save us from sin. Instead, the important thing is that you pick yourself up, dust yourself, and keep trying.
One of my favorite Bible verses reads, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).”
We are more than our mistakes. We are not defined by our mistakes or our shortcomings. What defines us is God’s love for us. I am not defined by the number of books I read or by the number of miles I run. We are not defined by our accomplishments. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s grace. God’s love is a gift that is freely given.
As long as we have faith, I know that Christ will guide us through any adversity that we may face. The race won’t always be an easy one and I know that there are many obstacles ahead; nevertheless, I know that we will rise to the challenge and overcome any obstacle together.
My dear friends, let us run together and support one another.
Let’s run a good strong race into 2019 and beyond!
I’m certain that it is going to be a great New Year!
Until Next Time-
Peace Be With You,
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!