Tag Archives: Race

More Bite

I was being the good husband. There were tree branches and limbs that needed to be cut down and cut up. While I’m not the handiest handyman around the house, this is something I’ve done and can do. So I readied our chainsaw and got to work. Things rolled along smoothly for a while – until the chain got stuck and came off the blade. Still no problem – I’ve put the chain on before. I had to loosen everything, take the chain off completely, and then put it back on and tighten it. So I did that – and began to cut away again – except that the saw wasn’t cutting. After some looking I discovered that the teeth of the chain were facing the wrong direction; therefore they had no bite. Thus my lesson for that day: when it comes to chain saws, “If you want more bite, face forward.”  It would be nice to tell you that once I removed the chain again and put it back on everything was fine – but I kept getting it wrong and it took several efforts – and a great deal of time – to get it right. (Remember I said I wasn’t the handiest handyman!) I suppose there are some lessons there as well but I do not want to digress.

So back to the direction of the teeth. The principle, “If you want more bite, face forward,” is not limited to saws. If I want to have more bite in my witness, more bite in my testimony, more bite in confronting the darkness of our world I must face forward. I cannot turn my back or assume that “If I live right the world will notice.”  The letter to the Hebrews is both instructive and inspiring. Hebrews 12:2 states (NLT), “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”  The chapter follows the great ‘Hall of Heroes’ in chapter 11. After offering this long list of inspirational Christian witnesses, the author is ready to make his application. I think Eugene Peterson put it well in The Message: “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3) “If you want more bite, face forward.”

Such living, exemplified in Hebrews 11 & 12, will take a big bite into our world.

 

 

 

 

Such living will cut down the rotten limbs, clear away the sinful brush, and make room for the good healthy branches to grow and produce richer fruit. So how is it with you?  How big is your bite? How great is your impact? Which way are you facing? Is it time to strip down, face forward, and start running – no spiritual fat or parasitic sins?  Is it time to focus your eyes on Jesus? Is it time to go over His story again? After all, “That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” “If you want more bite, face forward.”

 

 

Sailing Through Life – Part 5 When You’re Getting Nowhere Fast

While sailing at sea my wife and I tried to get in a walk each day. As we did so I was struck by how the direction and speed with which we walked created a clear picture of another life lesson. If we walked in the same direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were making more and faster progress than we really were. On the other hand, when we got to the other side and walked opposite the direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were losing ground with each step. It seemed that for every step forward we went backwards 2 or 3. On this side of the ship all I could think of was the old saying, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.” The image that came to mind was trying to walk up a down escalator. (1)

Have you ever felt that way? That you’re getting nowhere fast – that for every step forward you are taking 2 backward? That instead of gaining ground you’re losing ground? That the faster you go the further you get behind? The harder you try the wearier you become. Yet, you hesitate to stop or slow down for fear you’ll not complete your task on time, if at all. And the strength fades as the fatigue sets in. What to do?

Not surprisingly, the Bible has an answer. The wise preacher declared, “The race is not to the swift…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) It is not our speed through life that counts. It’s our efficiency and strength – managing our body and soul well. When the losing ground feelings arise it’s time to slow down. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:8). God is saying, “Slow down. Stop. Let go. I’m here to help.”

Certainly God knows whereof He speaks! Recall what happened after 6 days of creating the world: “… on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) What’s good for God is good and necessary for us. So God addressed the need for and importance of rest when He laid down His 10 commandments: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11) God repeated the command often – as in Exodus 31:15 (Good News Translation): “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a solemn day of rest dedicated to me.” (2)

It only stands to reason, then, that Jesus not only observed the Sabbath Day but also disciplined Himself to rest. Often he withdrew from the crowds and disciples to a mountain in order to rest and pray. He also wanted His disciples to develop the habit of resting. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31) Jesus also invited us to develop this ‘rest discipline’. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

So when you’re going up that down escalator remember: Slow Down! Stop! Let Go! Get in the habit of not only setting aside the Sabbath day weekly, but beyond that, set aside some portion of each day.

Try taking time to pray this prayer:

“Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations of slowing down; to look at a flower; to chat with an old friend or make a new one; to pet a stray dog; to watch a spider build a web; to smile at a child; or to read a good book. Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.”

Then when you run you’ll run faster, when you step ahead your steps will be farther apart and your strength will be greater. And it will be amazing where you’ll go and what you’ll get done in the strength of Jesus.

Keep in mind what lies ahead: I heard a voice out of Heaven, “Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end.” (Revelation 14:13)

(1) Creator: Einar Kling-Odencrants — Copyright:x-default .