Well, here we are at the end of the first week of 2016. We took a different path to begin the new year; choosing to rest, to read, to pray, to wait. Some of you undoubtedly feel like a thoroughbred at the starting gate. The gun has sounded, and the rest of the field is well on their way. Meanwhile, you feel like your gate hasn't opened and your race has not yet begun. Well, take a look at this brief scene from an old favorite of mine, "Hidalgo" at the start of a 3,000 mile race across the Sahara with the crowds chanting. I'll see you at the end of the beginning.
Did you catch what he told his horse? "What I tell you, little brother? It's all for show" just before the race began; an endurance race, no doubt.
The start of each year is a lot like this clip. Loud, exciting, and a hopeful show. But before you know it, the crowds are out of sight and then begins the real battle, the strategy, the actual race. That's why I knew 10 days without training would do far more good for my soul than it would do harm to my body. And I pray it meant the same for yours. I admit, I care far more about your soul than I do your body. And the same goes for my own.
Earlier this week, we prayed that God would chip away what doesn't belong in His vision for our lives. That He would undo, mold, strip away and discard anything that didn't resemble Him, reflect Him or delight Him. We are the granite and He is our Master Craftsman.
We then looked at Nehemiah. His gut reaction before he rebuilt the walls of the temple in Jerusalem was to whisper to God under his breath. And before we rebuild our temple, we're hopefully doing the same.
Which brings us to today. The end of the beginning. The end of a rare training fast; our willful avoidance of a cherished gift. But as I join you in our attempt to make the most of this year for our good and His glory, I'm convinced - perhaps more than ever - that nothing God gave us to be healthy was ever meant to be enjoyed at the expense of our time with Him.
The Bible says, "Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance..." (James 4:13-17)
Alistair Begg says about the excerpt in James, "Before you go planning the year, you don't know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? Let me suggest to you that your life is a mist. It is frail and inconsequential. Not very flattering, but it appears for a little while. Transient. But what we know we don't want to face. But our culture doesn't want to face this. The passage of time is a clear call to us to reckon on eternity. Vanishing. James is not opposed to planning, but he is opposed to planning that leaves God out. It will be a revolution in our lives if we get what James is saying; that every aspect of life should be approached from the perspective of Deo Volente, "God Willing."
Dependent on God. Subject to His will.
Yes indeed, guys, we will soon enough be talking about goals and objectives and striving, but I'm glad we took a few days to let the rest of the field take off; to spend a few short days thinking about nothing else but our Savior, our Creator. We can rest in what it says in Matthew 6, "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal..." Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but muscle wastes away far quicker than metal, or should I say, iron. Moths don't even get the chance. What you and I work so hard for in our physical pursuits will have withered away long before silver and gold.
If I can say anything to help put a button and a bow on this week of waiting, it would be this: Above all else this year, let's wrap our hearts, our minds and our bodies around the anchor of the Gospel each and every single day. Let's deny the notion that we get to enjoy the gift of health based on our mighty diligence, and instead believe what the Bible says in that it's all a gift. When it comes to our year and goals, let's memorize Psalm 31 right now when he said, "I trust in you, Lord, I say you are my God, my times are in your hands." And when it comes to our plans - physical or otherwise - let's remember Paul in Acts chapter 18 when he said, "I hope to come and see you. I will come back, if it is the Lord's will."
So enjoy the weekend and the last few days of rest. And when the time comes to begin your training, I pray you do so with a renewed heart, clear mind and gospel-drenched soul. I'll see you Monday. Deo Volente.