7.17.13 "The race is challenging"

Today’s Scripture is: 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 (The Message) 24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. 26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

I had a conversation with a friend just this morning about how hard, how exhausting, and how frustrating being in a mentoring relationship with someone in need and far from God can be. Her and I both have been called into ministry with some people that have never really known the love of Jesus until now… and who have never even received life skills because of their tough upbringing. This friend and I are both on a journey with these people that have taken us out of our comfort zones and put us in positions of money, space, and time sacrifice. Neither of us would trade what we’ve had the opportunity to be a part of or would trade what we’ve seen God do in the midst of these situations, but it doesn’t change how challenging it is!

This scripture encourages me in our journey. It would be easy to say, “I’m not responsible for these people”, or “I don’t have the money to help”, or “I have so many other things to do I couldn’t possibly fit one more thing into my schedule”. But that’s not really running the race is it? Avoiding a call or opportunity that God places in my life because of other things going on may be what God would consider sloppy living… and I don’t want to live sloppily for God!

Being involved in people’s lives – especially those that are hard to love, require extra grace, require a lot of my time, or are in need financially (when I have little to give in that area) – keeps me fit and in the race. Otherwise I get lazy and apathetic and will think someone else will always take care of the hard cases or tough issues. Training hard and staying in top condition hurts. It’s uncomfortable, it makes you feel beat up, it challenges you in every way….and the devil can use that to keep us (me) from engaging because he knows the impact for the kingdom can be so great! It’s hard, but like the above scripture says… I don’t want to get caught napping. I want to be running the race – and it’s not for what’s perceived as valuable here on earth, it’s about the eternal difference.

On Sunday, Mike talked about living love and living love(d). He said if we know our identity in Christ and how much He loves us, then we can respond to God’s love and are capable of loving others freely, without fear or guilt or performance. When we are called into the race, I believe God will equip us to freely love others in a way that’s not of ourselves. He’ll give us the perseverance, the creativity, the patience, the stamina, the time, and even the money to help others.

Running the race, running to win, being alert, and not living sloppily may look different to you than what I’ve shared here today, but it applied well in what I’m experiencing in my life right now. Are you in a situation where this scripture really hits home for you? If so, share it! I’d love to hear how God has spoken to you today.