I'm a ranch kid. All my references for learning stuff has been from the viewpoint of agriculture. I also grew up in church. So the Bible stories or the lessons that I really understood where those that talked about planting or harvesting because that's what I knew and understood. But recently I've acquired a new viewpoint for things and it's running. (I know, back to a topic that I seem to write about a lot lately).
I had an aha moment in church last week. I was at home and visiting my dad's church Grace Baptist in Prineville, Oregon. They have a new pastor and I was a little nervous about going to church on the 19th. Not because church makes me nervous; I grew up there and most of the people there I have known my entire life but to be honest, it was going to be a test as to whether I was going to continue to visit Dad's church in the future. I was going to see what he was like because with his last pastor I didn't get anything from his sermons and to be honest I really would just read the Bible on my own while sitting there and not pay attention to what he was saying.
So the sermon was great. I totally got and went with it and even got excited. I wanted to jump up and shout Amen! (not something I would ever do) and so badly wanted that to be a Bible Study where a conversation and other people's thoughts were shared because I got so much from that talk and to be completely honest, that's never happened in that church, for me, in my entire life.
He sermon was on persevering and keep moving forward because change makes us uncomfortable and that with change and being uncomfortable we grow. He used the example of the Israelites and how they wandered in the desert for 40 years on a trip that really should have been a several day trip instead of a several decade trip.
He pointed out that when we come to Christ as new Christians we have no ideas or notions as to what our faith will be like. We just do each step... baptism, joining the church, being involved. That it's easy to accept Christ and it's easy to be baptized and it's easy to to go to church but then the next few steps require a bit more commitment- tithing, teaching a class, share your faith with someone.
But just like the Israelites we need to keep moving forward, even when we want to turn around and go home to what we know is comfortable. They had to walk by faith. Imagine if they would have turned around and went back to Egypt in year 39. What they would have missed out on. And they have the privilege of seeing real miracles (hello- manna, cloud, burning flame, parting of the Red Sea)!
Growth requires sacrifice. In your growth you will hit a wall. In your growth, sacrifice and inconveniences God has a plan. He has placed the steps in our lives to move forward and when we hit wall we need to rely less on ourselves and trust God. He has a plan. Keep moving forward. Check out Psalm 37:23.
So here was my aha moment. One of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 4:7 it talks about finishing the race and keeping the faith. And I think the Apostle Paul might have been a runner because he has a lot of verses that talk about it. Halfway through the sermon I realized my journey with running and training for races is just like my faith (go with me here). You start off with old shoes the first time you run because most likely you haven't learned that there are several types of shoes for different things. Then you take the next step and get new shoes and maybe a new tech shirt then you realize you need to get running shorts and it progresses to eventually you have a running app on your phone or a nice expensive gps watch. What I am saying is that just like growing and moving forward in your faith with small steps (new shoes, new shirt) eventually lead to bigger commitments (running apps, magazine subscriptions, gps watches).
And just like your faith, in running sometimes you grow weary (training miles), your legs grow weak and sometimes you just want to quit or take the short cut home but if you persevere and stick it out the things that you learn about yourself and what you are capable of are incredible. Some may be able to understand the emotions you get when you cross the finish line at a 5k, a half marathon or even a full one. You've spent hours and miles training yourself for the race and you have challenges along the way in training but you also have them during the race. You get blisters and you might injure yourself and you might hit a wall but if you keep moving forward one foot step at a time, you will eventually accomplish great things and yes through running you learn things that even God wants to teach you.
Faith is just like running. You need to keep moving forward and you need to keep your eye on the promised land because it might seem like a 14 day trip but it might take you 40 years to accomplish your goal and travel the path that God wants you to travel.
And yes, I will be looking forward to going home and going to church in the future. When you see and interact with people who have a passion for what they are doing and love it it's contagious and I can tell by just the last two visits that the new pastor will be good for Grace Baptist Church (but that's just my opinion).