I’ve asked myself a lot of questions this year: What am I afraid of? Why do some circumstances elicit such a strong response from me? Who are the people influencing me, and what is their influence? What would success look like in this area of my life? What’s holding me back? Am I living with a kingdom focus?
A year ago, I started running, and when I say running, I mean I tried to run up to the top of my driveway and back. It took me three attempts to run to the top without stopping. I was thirty-five pounds overweight and hadn’t exercised in over ten years. I committed the first month of “running” to just running one round-trip lap of my driveway. The next month, I added another lap. The month after that, a third. A year later, laps turned to miles. I could have stayed where I was that first month, but I’m glad I didn’t.
Paul once referenced giving milk to new believers because they weren’t ready for meat. The Bible talks of God’s grace in preparing his people for difficulties they wouldn’t be ready to handle on a first day. And here, Paul challenges and encourages:
5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
7 We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. 8 For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. 9 We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:5, 7-9, 11, NLT).
I think on kingdom and character. David’s psalm shows me he thinks of it too.
1 I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
I will praise you with songs.
2 I will be careful to live a blameless life—
when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
in my own home.
3 I will refuse to look at
anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
I will have nothing to do with them.
4 I will reject perverse ideas
and stay away from every evil.
5 I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
I will not endure conceit and pride.
6 I will search for faithful people
to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
will be allowed to serve me.
7 I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
and liars will not stay in my presence.
8 My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
and free the city of the Lord from their grip (Psalm 101, NLT).
In recent years, my family has lost many relatives and friends to death. In reflection, their lives spoke in death of what mattered to them in life–and one day, mine will too. Who do I want to mature to be when I’m eighty? The answer tells me what I need to start doing now. Those choices speak for me when I’m gone.
Lord, David and Paul are like dear brothers to me. Thank you for giving me family in the pages of Your Word when I lost people from my life. Thank you for Your Spirit in me, guiding and correcting and challenging me. I’m even thankful for the heckler in my head, who tries to defeat me every day. Only in you, Lord, can an enemy’s taunt turn into fuel for victory.