Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life's Lesson Via the Turkey Trot

The Christian journey is never an easy walk. I am responding to a blog I read that compared the lonely walk of Christianity to that of a prison. We feel we are alone because we do not see the other participants so clearly. They are there, we occasionally run along the side of them, and we speak long enough to realize we are truly running the same race.

My son ran in many races. Here he is running in my favorite, the annual Turkey Trot here in Boiling Springs, NC.

I can picture all the participants at the beginning of the race. It is so exciting, everyone, all ages and sizes, in their running gear walking and stretching as they near the start line. Just seeing all the participants is a challenge and motivation to get in there and win that race. However, as the race continues, the participants spread out, some speeding ahead at their pace and others slowing down. Mind you, they are all still in the race just not in community as they once were. It is a lonely, hard race. Notice that he is running alone as he gets to the finish line.  The muscles begin to cramp, the heart beats frantically to furnish the lungs with oxygen it needs, the throat and mouth screams for just a drink of cool water,  as the tired, aching, exhausted body nears the finish line. Then the runner spots the crowd and recognizes some of the other runners who have already finished and the bystanders who are calling, "yeah, keep it up, job well done, etc." 

I remember that as my son ran, he was not interested in what was happening in the world, as the families camped along the road, eating and drinking as they fellowship with each other. He did not notice the plane overhead carrying another family on their long awaited vacation. None of these things were important at that time. He was solely focused on the run and the goal at the end. Not once was there any thought of stopping along the way to participate in anything else. His eyes were focused on one thing alone, the goal, the finish line.

As a Christian we must keep your eyes on the goal. As a Christian we are living in this world but we are not of the world. Jesus, would remind us that the road we have chosen is not a glamorous one, it is a lonely road. He said in Luke 9:58, " Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Wow, How encouraging is that? He does not say that we will find a cozy home, being community or church, where we will be encouraged, nurtured, or cared for. Christians were scattered and far between, and often treated harshly, facing such persecution unto death. We are also told in Hebrews 11, that we are really aliens and strangers on earth, but are longing for a better country, a heavenly one.  

Why would anyone choose this way? It seems like such a long event here as we run.  But only for a moment, because our life here is compared to a vapor.   James 4:14 reminds us, "whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." Our focus cannot rest on the the events, people, or happening along the way, for when it does we are deceived into thinking that we have chosen the wrong way.

We choose this way, because it is the only way. Remember that Jesus our Savior ran this race before us. He claimed the reward for us and is waiting beside the Father for us to claim the reward, but we must show up to claim it. I want to take you to Hebrews 12:1,2 where we read that there is a "great cloud of witnesses" who all affirm that the goal is indeed worth running the race with endurance. I love the way that Don Piper described the event, our crossing the finish line. We will have community and we will experience it to it's fullest. 

Please take time to hear him describe it. I can feel the bliss that he describes. God designed us for true fellowship. We will never find that kind of fellowship here. Just a taste of it. No longer will you have to long for it. We will sense fellowship with God, Jesus, and friends for all eternity. Praise be to God.

I challenge you to surround yourselves with Christian men and women, but the greater motivation for running is to focus on Christ, for we already know that to focus on anything else will endanger us of our relationship with Christ and our ability to run effectively. 

Do you find the road lonely? I do. But I think the greater question is this. How many individuals am I helping along the way? How can we pass a water bottle, or a cheer to encourage another along the way. How are you going to intentionally help your brother, maybe your pastor, along the way? My next entry will be suggesting ways to encourage others. Hope you will respond. I will use your comments.