From The Rectory
As I sit down to write this month’s editorial, I have quite literally just got back from a night time marathon around Pegwell Bay.
The course consisted of laps that meandered alongside the marshes, past the Viking Longboat, and through a wooded area.
Usually before the start of a marathon I have developed a strategy for the race, a strategy that covers what kit I am going to wear or carry, the pace I want to be running at the different stages and when to take on fuel.
Tonight everything was going to plan, actually it was going better than that! I was out in joint first place with my friend James, we were spurring each other along, and had settled into a fast comfortable pace. Then at mile 13 it all started to go wrong. I stepped down a pot hole and twisted my ankle, and I feared that I may have done worse as each time my right foot struck the ground a sharp pain shot up my leg. At that point I was ready to quit, I had decided to just complete the lap and bail out.
As I hobbled around the lap I started praying and was reminded of Paul’s words at the end of the book of Acts. ‘My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.’ (Acts 20v24)
Paul saw his life and faith as a race. A race which took commitment and discipline. For Paul there was no point in starting strong, or even starting at all, unless you intended to finish. This is a theme that Jesus speaks about in Luke’s gospel: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14v28)
As I reflected on these passages and my place in the marathon, I realised that I needed to change my perspective. Things were not going to plan, but that didn’t mean I needed to quit! I could still complete the distance. No longer was the race about the time, it was about finishing the distance so I started setting myself smaller goals, getting to the next corner or landmark, giving myself permission to change the pace and walk where necessary.
I also took great strength from other runners who came alongside to run with me, and offer words of encouragement.
In life I have met many people who have thrown in the towel, and given up on God and the church when tough times hit, when the game plan was not working. So often we assume in those times of trouble God has abandoned us. But we know from God’s word that Jesus has promised ‘Never to leave or forsake us.’
In those times of trouble, the times when we find ourselves doubting and asking why and how, then we must draw closer to God, rather than pushing him aside.
In those times, we need to ask God to take us one step at a time, to provide us with the peace and strength to face what lies ahead.
Then there’s the Church. Just as I drew strength from other runners, when we are weak and in need that’s when the Church comes into its own. As a Church we are called to uphold and support each other in need.
We can also take comfort from God’s promise in Jerimiah, ‘I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ (Jerimiah 29v11)
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