Have I Done Enough?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It’s not how you start the race that matters, but how you finish.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 9:24

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Leaning over and stretching, I looked at the entrance to the race with a side glance, as if to hide the fact that I was examining it. Had my training been enough? What about those days when I opted to eat chocolate instead of training on the treadmill? (There’s that chocolate appearing in the blog again).

“You can do this”, I told myself. Ugh, but I really didn’t want to. I started to contemplate why I signed up for this race in the first place, and so began the battle of the mind as we all took our mark.

In preparation for the race, earlier that morning my dear hubby thought it would be kind to make me a three egg omelet and grits with a banana. * Gulp. * One egg is usually my limit, but I thought I needed energy for the race, so I obliged and stuffed my face. It’s all about the carbs, right? Later he asked if there was any breakfast left. *Oops.* No wonder it was a three egg omelet – we were supposed to split it.

As we drove to the race, my tummy and I were not feeling in the running mood, if you know what I mean. Now back to that starting line. “Pace yourself”, I coached myself. “Don’t worry about everybody passing you when you are slower than everyone else around you”. Self-talk was starting to get me pumped up. I had enough fuel to get through this race, just needed the right attitude.

The blaring sound alerted us, hearts pumping, that it was our turn for our feet to slave away at the pavement. “Why, oh why am I doing this AGAIN?” Focusing on my first benchmark, I squinted between drops of sweat and thought I was probably already to a half mile. Suddenly, I really felt like I was going to hurl. Desperate for a quick exit, the 30,000 people surrounding me made it seem impossible to find a place to puke.

Note to self: “Don’t ever eat a 3-egg omelet with grits and a banana before a race again”. “I can’t do this”, I started to fill my mind with a doubtful mantra. Just then, my husband tapped me on the back. He was following me still, urging me on. Seeing my misery, he encouraged me to keep going.

Pressing on in my misery and panic, I furtively looked for places to hurl, but found none. At each mile marker my husband somehow appeared, dancing and rooting me on. He had not even trained for this race, and he was whooping me?! I started to wonder if he had a sinister plan with the 3-egg omelet he had prepared that morning just for me.

By the grace of God, I finished, but it wasn’t pretty. My husband sprinted the entire race ahead of me to encourage me, but I was feeling mighty inferior.

I learned a lot that day about perseverance, and yes, I ran that race again, but I avoided some of the mistakes I made before.

The lessons learned in a race impact all areas of life. The tasks God calls us to – will we work at them and complete them, or give up part way through? Will we prepare and be in the Word to enable us to do the work of God, or just randomly serve?

This question asked at the beginning of today’s post echoes in the corners of my mind. Have I Done Enough?

As a parent – have I done enough? As I prepare to send another child to study on campus instead of at home, I wonder, have I done enough? Will he be able to stand against temptation and run his own race?

As a child of God, have I done enough? Has my heart burned with the passion of sharing God’s love with the world? Or have I focused on being comfortable in this temporary world?

We are all in a race, but often get caught up in life’s hectic distractions and forget what matters most. That glorious finish line will be worth it. Our burdens and the difficulty of the race pale in light of what God has in store for those who run this race all for His glory.

Like the race I ran that was full of challenges, life is rife with hardship, temptations, and battles, but there are encouragements along the way provided by God to spur us on.

It is not those necessarily those who start well who win the race, but those who are consistent and finish it well. Stay focused and stay faithful. It will be worth it in the end.

Lord, thank You for your grace to run the race of this life. Give us Your perspective and help us to not lose heart. Be glorified as we run for You.

The Beautiful Bride of Christ

Isaiah 54:5

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

Ephesians 5:27

So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Romans 16:17-20

Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles contrary to the teaching that you learned. Avoid them! 18 For these are the kind who do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of the naive. 19 Your obedience is known to all and thus I rejoice over you. But I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Matthew 12:34-37

Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. 35 The good person brings good things out of his good treasury, and the evil person brings evil things out of his evil treasury. 36 I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Church.  Referred to as a place of worship, it is much more than a building.  The church is the body of Christ – made up of precious brothers and sisters, all who choose to accept the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers.  All sinful, condemned to die, all redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  All considered precious and beloved by our great and awesome, Holy God.

Also called the bride, the church is one day going to be without spot or blemish.  What a vision that is!  But all too often, we forget what we were saved from.  We bask in the forgiveness but can forget that our works in Christ will still be judged.  We easily can become distracted with petty disputes and forget that people are dying all around us.  While we fret over matters and seek to serve ourselves or elevate our position or status in church, people are desperately wanting to see us live out our faith.  God help us.

I have seen more hurt in the body of Christ over things that truly do not matter in the scope of all eternity, and it grieves God’s heart.  Tearing one another down with our words, judging one another and scrambling for position all resemble the world, not what we are now.

By God’s grace, we can still seek to be the beautiful bride of Christ.  We can put aside offenses, truly consider others more important than ourselves, humble ourselves and speak well of one another.  We can send the enemy flying out our doors by not listening to the flesh and being careful to utter out of our mouths only words that build up and encourage those around us.  Yes, it is a death when we do let go of our envy and bitterness, but it is a sweet death of evil, and makes us alive to glorify God!

When we look into the mirror of the Word of God, positionally we see Who we are in Christ, and it is astonishingly beautiful. May we seek to live out the grace that has been so abundantly given to us and not take for granted His mercy.  May we lavishly give the love and forgiveness that God gives to us and rise above the fleshly responses which should be foreign to new creations in Christ.  Most of all, may God be glorified by our acts of service, which are done for His pleasure and not our own.

Lord, You are so beautiful.  Help us to radiate Your beauty to the world around us and glorify you in our gatherings.