My son, Drew is a runner. He began running when he was in seventh grade. I will never forget the first practice I took him to. It was a very hot August morning. It was not going to surprise me if he got in the car after practice and say “this is not for me.” But, he proved me wrong. Drew hopped in the car and said; “practice tomorrow eight sharp!” As each day of practice came and went, Drew’s endurance and times would improve.
For those of you who run or ever ran cross-country or track know that you are not only competing with your team to beat the competition but you are competing with yourself. It is the goal of every runner to improve his/her PR (personal record) times each time he/she competes. This competition against self is even greater in 5k’s and marathons.
There were races where Drew would run and he would feel like he was running with weights around his ankle. These races were frustrating for Drew because he knew what his personal best could be and should have been. However, at the end of the day, Drew would put that race behind him and look towards the next start line/race. Even though he would put the bad race behind, he would evaluate and note where he made the mistake, look to see where he needed to improve. The questions Drew would ask himself were; “Did I start out too fast?” “How well did I actual pace myself.” ”How focused was I on the race?”
In my post Don’t Give Up..Finish the Race, I share how we each run a race. The race we run is the day in and day out of living. There are good days and there are bad days. In other words, we have good races and races we would like to forget. This post also expresses how God and his angels are on the sidelines cheering us on to the finish.
Every now and then we all look back on days past. Sometimes, we think to ourselves; ‘What was I thinking?’ Yes, we all say hindsight is 20/20 and the best teacher of all. Yet, in those moments when we look back, we need to see the lessons learned and how these decisions were all a part of God’s molding us. Each one of us has personal goals and things we want to achieve each and every day. Yes, we all have a PR(personal record).
There are some days where we meet our PR or even exceed the record. Then there are other days where we wish we could just go crawl in a hole and hide. It is on these days, where we need to evaluate our day and see the mistakes made. Next, we need to learn from those mistakes and move on to the next start line. In other words, we move on to the next new day with our personal record and with knowledge of how to go about the day a little better.
Yes, I know that all of us encounter a moment where we wish we got a do over but life does not work that way. God does not give us do over but he gives us a new slate each day. It is the Lenten season and we are encouraged to stop and evaluate our race strategy. We can ask ourselves similar questions that my son, Drew would ask after a race.
“Am I starting out too fast?” In other words, am I starting the day in such a hurry that I forget to ask God to come along with me?
“Am I pacing myself appropriately?” When I am asked to do things am I doing it out of obligation, or are these things God is calling me to do?
“Am I focused on the race?” As I begin each day, do I focus on God and stay tuned in to His voice. Do I see the goal at the end of the day?
Every day we are placed on a new start line. No matter if we did or didn’t meet our PR the day before, we are given another chance to improve. My PR is to allow Christ show through me in every step and action I take each day. Yes, there are days when I meet this PR and then there are others where I just want to crawl in a hole. But, I know I must evaluate, surrender to God and be ready for the next start line. So what is your PR?
- Run Your Own Race! (takemyfoolishadvice.com)
- Running Through Stings (redeemedandredirected.com)
- The Attitude of An Athlete (Part 1) (jesusnsports.wordpress.com)
- We’ll Finish Together (ttuinder.wordpress.com)
- Click a Blessing Today – He knows what He is doing all the time (ptl2010.com)
This morning as I read the newest Facebook status updates, I saw where many were sharing what they were giving up for Lent. Others were sharing the beginnings of Lenten Devotionals along with where and when Ash Wednesday services would be taking place today and this evening. Then, I head on over to Wednesday morning bible study where the question was asked; “Lent. What does it mean?”
“Lent. What does it mean?” Some of the answers from our group were it is a time of giving up something. One group member shared an idea from Christian author, Angela Thomas where Angela puts a bowl of flour out on the table. Then, she has her children to write the name of a person they need to forgive or something they need to be forgiven for. Once they write this in the flour, they take their hands and wipe it out. This is a beautiful symbol of showing how Christ’s death on the cross wiped our slates clean. Others shared how they have come to find it a time of doing daily Random Acts of Kindness.
As I listened to these thoughts on Lent, my wheels were turning. I began to think of when we celebrate the New Year coming in and how we all make resolutions. We look at the new year as a time of renewal and fresh starts. Lent is very much like the New Year coming in. For me, Lent is not just about giving up, or daily acts of kindness but it is a time for taking inventory and renewing my walk with Christ.
In the days ahead, I will reflect on my Christian walk. In this reflection, I will asking myself the following questions and talking to God how and where I need to improve. The questions that I will be asking myself are:
Where am I on my Christian walk? Is God calling me to take a new direction?
How can I strengthen my faith?
What things are in my life that are getting in the way of my walk with God?
Where do I need to make changes to better serve God?
How can I demonstrate what God is doing in my life?
Where is God working where I can join Him?
These questions are only the beginning of me taking inventory. Throughout the Lenten Season, I am sure that there will be more questions that God will place on my heart for reflection and conversation with Him. It is through this inventory process that I gain new perspective and a better understanding of my Creator who is always walking with me not just on good days but even in those seasons of life where I, myself feel like I am wondering in the wilderness.
Lent. What does Lent mean to you?
- lent isn’t about you (eugenecho.com)
It seems time continues to rapidly go by and seems to go even faster as I get older. I feel like it was just this last week, we were in worship celebrating the birth of Christ. As I sit down to write this post, January is almost over. “Where is the time going?” I say to myself. On Wednesday of this week, along with all of you, I will be flipping my calendar over to February.
When looking ahead into the month of February, I already see the days being marked with commitments for me to attend. Among the things I have placed on my calendar include Ground Hog’s Day where we will find out if we will have an early spring or six more weeks of winter. Another date is Valentine’s Day where we send expressions of love and affection to those important in our lives. But, the most important date on the calendar is Ash Wednesday.
What is Ash Wednesday? It is the beginning of Lent on the Christian calendar. This marks the time in Jesus’ life where He was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And, He also fasted for forty days and forty nights.” Can you imagine going forty days and forty nights without food? Then, on top of not eating, dealing with the devil himself face to face. I don’t know about you but when I am tired and/or hungry I am definitely not on my ” A” game. Yet, Jesus set the example for us in resisting temptation and following the call of God.
In honor of this time of fasting for forty days and forty nights, many Christians give up something they enjoy during this season. It is a a time of self-denial and self-reflection. Yet, when I think of Lent, I not only think about giving up something I enjoy but I reflect on my own personal walk with God.
On February 22nd, along with many other Christians I will attend a worship service where my minister will place ashes on my forehead. As these ashes are placed, these are the things I will be asking myself and praying over during the forty days.
Am I obedient to God’s word?
Does my lifestyle demonstrate the life of Christ?
Where do I need to improve in my walk with God?
Where is God calling me to serve?
Where do I need to seek reconciliation?
Am I always in tuned to the whispers of God?
Most of all, do I always put the world behind me and follow Jesus?
As you mark your calendar of appointments and activities. circle February 22nd. As you circle this date, begin to reflect on Lenten Season and its meaning for you. This may be a good time to begin a journal and write your own personal reflections and conversations with God during this most holy of seasons.
My personal thought and summary on Lent: “It is not about what you give up but it is about what you get up and do to follow and live the life of Christ.”
- Getting Ready for Lent – What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? (godspace.wordpress.com)
- Are you ready for Lent? (book giveaway!) (kathleenbasi.com)
- Ordinary Time – time that matters (pastorstrom.com)
- Radical Christianity – Is There Any Other Kind? (pastorpaulvbsblog.blogspot.com)
- Now…the rest of the story…Drew’s Role As The Donkey (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
Luke 24:13-35 is titled The Road To Emmaus. If you are familiar with this scripture you know that two unnamed disciples were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day that Jesus had risen from the dead. As they were on their journey, Jesus joined them. Yet, they did not recognize the person who had joined them on their journey as Jesus. Verse 16 says their eyes were restrained, so they did not know him. This ‘stranger’ who had joined these disciples began to ask about the events that had just happened. The disciples shared the life of Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection. After the disciples shared about Jesus and all the events that had just happened, this stranger began to quote and share the scriptures and prophecies that concerned Him.
The two disciples and Jesus arrive to the village where they were going, and He indicated He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, He took the bread, blessed and broke it,and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
The disciples reflected on what had just happened. They asked one another “Did our hearts not burn within while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” As they asked each other this question, they knew it was without a doubt that they had to go back to Jerusalem and find the other disciples and share the good news! The Lord had indeed risen!! They began to share all that happened on their journey on the Road to Emmaus.
We all know that Jesus will return to earth some day. No one including Jesus Himself knows the hour nor the day of His return. Yet, if He would return as He did to these disciples, would we know Him? Are our eyes retrained? Do you recognize Him today in your every day life? Do you know He walks beside you everyday?
Jesus has not made the physical grand the entrance as written in scripture but He is here with us every day. He is that homeless person that you helped feed. He is the person who you let go before you in line at the grocery. Jesus is the person you stopped to help change a flat on the side of the road.
Not only was He the person you may have helped. He was also the person who helped you. Ever been in a waiting room in a hospital and a stranger came up to give you comfort or simply listen to your situation? Ever had a rough day and some stranger gave you a wave and/or a smile and it cheered you up? Maybe, there was a decision you had to make and then someone said something that helped with that decision. Yes, that is Jesus letting you know that He is there with you always.
As we go through the Lenten Season, be aware of His presence. Take a walk on a warm spring day and be aware that it is Him who is walking with you. When you receive communion at worship, may your eyes be opened to Christ and His works that are happening all around you. Then, as your eyes are opened and you experience His grace, join Him in His work. Be His disciple and share the good news that He lives!
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!
May He live within your heart today and always!
(chorus from hymn ‘He Lives’ Cokesbury Hymnal p. 241)