(November 26, 2017) Brian Bell encourages keeping on track …
We live in a world where in sport of every kind athletics enjoy a high profile. The apostle Paul says ‘bodily exercise is of some benefit, but godliness with contentment is of greater gain’ (1 Timothy 4:8).
Paul’s words remind us about priority, if you are able to exercise, it is good to do so, within your limitations.
At the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, Tanzania was represented in the marathon by John Stephen Akhwari. Part way through the race, Akhwari fell and was injured. He decided to get bandaged up and continue, which he did, finishing in last place over an hour behind the other runners.
When interviewed later Akhwari was asked, ‘Why did you bother to get up and finish the race’ to which his reply was: ‘My country didn’t send me 5000 miles to start the race, they sent me 5000 miles to finish it.’
What a lovely perspective. You see, Akhwari could have stopped running; he was injured, he could not have won a medal position, so no one would have faulted him, but he decided to keep going.
As we approach another new year has there been an experience in the last year when you felt you couldn’t keep going?
- Perhaps a situation in life injured you
- Maybe other people have hurt and or disappointed you.
- Do you feel you have failed the Lord in some way
- Perhaps you made a poor decision and think he won’t forgive you?
The reality is that the race of life, just like Akhwari’s marathon run, is not always smooth.
There can be a tendency for Christian believers to feel difficult circumstances must be an indication of sin in their lives, or that they have displeased and or failed the Lord. While this may be so at times, we need to remember the varied, changing and indeed difficult circumstances of life are common to everyone and the Lord Jesus reminds us ‘the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust’ (Matthew 5:45).
To keep going in our Christian experience there are simple things we can do –
(1) Keep praying
The Lord Jesus loves to hear us speak to him and he loves us even if we are injured or feel we can’t go on, tell him what has happened and why or how you feel, pray even when you don’t feel like it.
Jesus encouraged his disciples ‘men ought always to pray and faint not’ (Luke 18:1).
These words do not mean we need to leave aside all the demands and responsibilities of life and devote our time only to prayer, they speak about being in an attitude of prayer. For example, you can be in prayer as you carry out household chores; you can be in prayer as you travel to work, or even if you train in the gym.
It is especially good to meet with others for prayer and even if in those situations you do not necessarily pray audibly – listening to others pray and being in agreement with their prayers can encourage and strengthen your own soul.
(2) Keep reading
An old song for children has the words ‘Read your Bible pray every day if you want to grow.’ I believe we need to see God’s word in our Bible less as just a book to be read but as food to be digested.
We eat food to satisfy our appetite and maintain our physical strength – God’s word is food for our souls and spiritual life. The Lord will speak to you through his word, very often by reminding you of some truth you already know, or the application of a verse of scripture in specific circumstances, listen to what he says, even if it means you must change in some way.
(3) Keep meeting
Hebrews 10:25 Message encourages us to ensure that we are ‘not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on.’ How interesting that a purpose in meeting together is to spur each other on… this has the sense that we are all running in the race and cheering each other to keep going.
We don’t have a blinkered vision: we know men and women are flawed and sometimes sadly, we don’t live in love as we ought. The writer was encouraging the Hebrew believers as the Message version puts it to ‘see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out.’ Now there is a real challenge – basically saying find new ways (being inventive) to encourage loving and helpful relationships.
Have you got any new ideas? Meeting in fellowship together gives you an opportunity to share your burdens with other believers who can help you make a decision to keep going.
(4) Keep encouraging
Proverbs 11 v 25 reminds us ‘those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.’
I believe, and have proved as a recipient of encouragement, one of the most vital ministries is to be an encourager. Someone has said that in God’s economy our generosity can be demonstrated by the measure of our love for others, this means being generous in spirit and in our attitude to others, treating them as equals, treating them with respect. This does not mean shying away if issues need to be dealt with but we should always speak the truth in love.
If you are meeting with a fellowship of believers, make every effort to be present when they meet for prayer, Bible study and/or Sunday services: these are all opportunities for believers to meet together to help us keep going, to encourage one another. The objective of all we do is to reach out in Jesus name to help people keep going in body, mind and spirit.
Get on track!
From a Christian perspective, it may be the finish line is not far away – many Christians believe the return of the Lord for his people, the church, is closer than it has ever been.
So, even if you need to get back on track, get started and keep going.
Brian Bell attends Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland and describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Brian is also a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. Link: firstname.lastname@example.org