Monday, September 6, 2010
looking for a word of comfort and got an uncomfortable word
As a matter of fact, some of those who passed me I knew for a fact had only been running a few months! I was so mad at myself and I looked to God for some comfort. You know what I mean...I wanted to feel that encouragement that comes when you remember a verse or two that helps lift you up. Instead, I kept remembering the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis 4. In case you don't have your Bible handy, here's the text: Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer. 3-5 Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn't get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. 6-7 God spoke to Cain: "Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted? And if you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you, you've got to master it."
Okay, I wanted an "It's okay, you did your best..." and what I got was a "Don't go pouting because they worked harder than you!"
The truth is, I haven't been putting the work into my running like I once did. Those who passed me, some had only just started running, but they were faithfully training. They were prepared for the race. I simply was not. I could try to find excuses, but it really boils down to the fact that I just had not done the work necessary to do well in this race. When they were training, I was complaining...too hot, too tired, too busy.
I find I do this in life as well. People who have been Christians less time than me, or who are younger than me - it's tempting to sulk and cry out that they seem to be walking more in faith than me...that they seem to have an excitement about the things of God that has grown cold inside me. I can almost hear God saying to me, "Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted?"
I'm not saying anything about salvation by works by the way. What I'm talking about is realizing that as long as I'm on this earth, I've got to be training. It's easy to let my Bible study slide because of a heavy work load. It's easy to not take the time for prayer and praise because I'm tired. Yes, I can do that and I'll get pretty much the same kind of result I got in today's race - pitiful. Or, I can prepare so that when the races come, I am ready to run.
So now what? Well, I guess I can keep making excuses and finding reasons NOT to train. I can quit running races....neither of these sound like an option I really want. Instead, I think I'll take to heart the second part of that verse: "Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted? And if you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you, you've got to master it."
I can keep making excuses and hope to get a "that's okay", or I can do well and find the victory I'm looking for. I may have been looking for a word of comfort, but I got an uncomfortable word....and that may make the difference in the future.