I am not much of a runner; however, I have been blessed over the past few years to watch my daughter run for Cross Country. She loves running Cross Country. Running the race, is not simply about being the winner—as there can only be one—but also about beating a personal record or P.R., as the experienced runners know it to be called. My daughter was always about beating her P.R., but recently she has been held back. The thing she loved most about running, that time alone to clear her mind and reconnect, was not happening because she couldn’t focus.
My daughter’s friend wanted to move up and join the high school practices due to transportation issues. The friend is a bit slower and loves to talk more than my daughter (I didn’t think that was possible). The practices no longer were about body conditioning, preparing for the season. The runs were no longer a time of peace and enjoyment. My daughter found herself being held back, running at a slower pace. With her friend’s gift of gab, they also were missing some instructions for some of the practice runs. This caused them to get lost a few times, run shorter or longer courses, and my daughter unnecessary stress. My daughter and I had a long talk about boundaries and goals.
Friends are great. Relationships are important. In life, we have a choice who we invest our lives in. We also have a choice of who we surround ourselves with and we have a choice of priorities. Jesus should have first place in our lives. The Bible tells us to love God and love others, to go and make disciples, to serve—we have choices to make to see these things through. Paul wrote that we should give everything our best as if for the Lord. All is for His glory. When we allow ourselves to be held back, for our focus to drift, if we surround ourselves with people who will constantly keep us from being where God wants us, we are not properly aligned. Today, reflect on God’s will for your life. Consider your relationships. Look at the boundaries you have in your life so that you are able to pursuit the goals God placed before you. Above all, make sure you connect with Him today—in His Word and in prayer.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:17 [NLT]
My daughter’s run today was different than all the others. She placed better than ever before and she had her fastest time to date. It was such a great moment to watch the outcome of all of her hard work. But I noticed something else different. There were lots of loud cheers coming from the sidelines. She had an entire cheering squad.
People need encouragement. People need to hear kind and supportive words. What was Moses supposed to do with Joshua? Encourage him (Deuteronomy 1:38). What did Barnabas do to Paul by taking a chance on him? Encourage and support him (Acts 9:27). Paul wrote, “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Paul sends Tychicus to the church in Colossae to “encourage (their) hearts” (4:8 NIV). In Hebrews 3 we read of this importance – to “encourage one another daily” (v.13 NIV). In 2 Timothy 4:2, it states: “encourage your people with great teaching” (NLT).
Encouragement matters. Today I encourage you to encourage others. Make a point to encourage someone. Do you see someone doing something awesome? Tell them you have taken notice. Compliment them. Give them a word of encouragement. Do you know someone who is struggling and could use some kind words? Take the time and share them. You never know how much a little encouragement can do in a person’s life. Plant those seeds of encouragement.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29 [NIV]
Twice this week I have seen a young man walking his son down the middle of the street. I often see runners and walkers alike walking on the street at the side of the road. Many of them have florescent clothing and typical exercise attire. All of them are looking forward to be aware of any oncoming traffic while walking on the proper side of the street to be as safe as possible. This man with the small child; however, rarely looks up as he walks his child. He has his face looking downward at his “Smart Phone,” keeping his attention there for blocks at a time.
If you have a child, God has blessed you with that child. You have been entrusted to care for the child and to raise the child in the way of the Lord. Numerous passages speak of teaching our children the Lord’s Word. Numerous passages mention training up a child. Sadly, there are many parents who are lost themselves, walking hap hazardously through life. This can be not only dangerous for the parents but can also be hurtful to the children. Other parents, even those who know the Lord, have been engrossed with other things in life, that their children do not get much of their attention.
Today, if you have a child—thank God for such a great blessing and seek Him for guidance. Rely on His Word to help you train up the child as the way to go in life. Ask yourself—are you active in your child’s life? Do you know what is going on at your son’s school? Are you interested in what your daughter is interested in? Get interested. Pay attention. Hug. Show love. Show support. Share wisdom. Share Jesus. They need it.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” – Psalm 127:3 [ESV]
We all seem to be in overdrive trying to rush through life. This morning I noticed something I see every day while taking my daily walks. The one street I walk on has a big dip which requires people to drive slowly or they will hit the underside of their car on the road. People that are unfamiliar with the street and do not slow down and pay attention to what is going on around them will hit bottom. Without fail, every morning or evening walk I will hear the all too familiar sound of the underside of a car making contact with the road. Sometimes I am even unfortunate to see the facial expressions the driver makes as they realise what has been done.
We are all guilty of doing this with our lives at some time or another. In a world that teaches us to be fast and to pile in as much as possible to our schedule, we rush. We think everything must be in a hurry. We do not have time to relax with family at dinner so we make a “quick and easy” meal or get some “fast food.” We listen to books in the car because we do not have a second to actually sit and read. We send text messages because we have no time to truly speak to another person.
What is worse is that we rush and make decisions without waiting for the Holy Spirit to illuminate us about the decision. We take it to God in prayer and then we do not like waiting for the answer. We pick and move along. We also get so caught up on what is going on later today, that we do not slow ourselves down to enjoy the right now. There is so much going on around us but we run the race as if we are wearing horse blinders, not able to take our eyes off what might not even happen on later today.
God did not create us to run around like crazy people in a world full of nuts. He wants so very much for you to have peace and happiness in life. If you are stressed out, overwhelmed, bogged down with so much on your plate, perhaps today is the day to take a deep breath, evaluate what is a priority and what is not, and have some “me and God time.” There is nothing so peaceful than some time with God. Whether you are reading His Word, worshiping Him, or simply resting in Him, you will find that He provides a comfort and a peace you cannot achieve alone. You will find that life can be so much better if you only slow down.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
– Psalm 23 [NASB]
When I was younger, I always was amazed at the story of Jonah. I imagined this man attempting to run away, and yet “the LORD hurled a great wind” and next thing you know he was swallowed by “a great fish.” Who tries to run away from God? It seems crazy and yet I believe we all have our moments.
Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. God told him of the important task he had, but he did not agree. We do this same thing when God gives us an idea of what we are to do in life, and yet we think we know better or we allow fear to dictate our actions instead of giving God the chance to direct our path.
Perhaps it could be that we have this high paying job, but God wants us to go back to school for a college degree in something far from our current career. Maybe we are told to move, to enter or end a relationship, or perhaps to wait for something. What really can be hard to swallow is when you make a plan or goal, you nearly are there at the end to reach this goal, and God turns you around. Maybe you are paying off a house or car and think you can settle, but God thinks it’s time for a change.
No matter what it is, God promises us that we will be blessed abundantly if we trust in Him. It’s hard. I won’t argue with anyone. I went across the world because God said to despite many sacrifices that had to be made. I went back to school though I loved my career and it provided for my family. Stepping out in faith is scary and it can be very unsettling; however, the rewards always come. Trust in Him for He alone is faithful. He is our victorious warrior who is by our side each day as we press forward.
“Do not be afraid O Zion;
Do not let your hands fall limp.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
– Zephaniah 3:16b-17 [NASB]