Thursday, October 14, 2010

The soldier, the athlete and the farmer

2 Timothy 2:1-7 "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things."

So what does a soldier, an athlete and a farmer have in common? Endurance. They must obtain endurance for the long battle, the strenuous run and the patience to reap of the harvest. As a soldier we cannot get all caught up in worry and drama around us. We must be focused and train ourselves to listen to the Commander. It's when we lose perspective that we find ourselves in danger. Each battle that comes is a new one, a different one. We must be willing to be obedient, listening to the every word of the One leading us through each battle.

The athlete runs the race with perseverance. His strides are taken carefully, thinking about each step.  Each breath is measured. He doesn't want to trip over something that if only he had been watching he could have avoided the fall. He prepares. He doesn't start off with the longest race, he begins with those shorter and as each race becomes harder he trains that much more so he can cross that finish line knowing he ran with self control.

The farmer works from sun up to sun down. He plows the field, he plants the seed and he prays for growth. He spends a long time waiting and watching, but through the growth of his fields, he too is growing. A farmer cannot be lazy. He knows the work before him and even though he knows each day will bring a sweat, he knows each drop is worth it in the end.

Here in these verses we have Paul speaking to Timothy. He is sharing his wisdom from his walk with this young man. A young man that has watched Paul and has learned from his life. Someone is always watching us. Paul went through battle after battle, but he did so with a new found faith that carried him through and brought glory and honor to the God who changed him. One that Timothy has watched and now will take that step of faith and show others. We can learn valuable lessons from those around us. We connect with those who have walked in our shoes and know our pain. My friends the Lord knows our pain. He sees our struggles and battles to walk in faith when all around us is falling apart.

A few weeks ago as I was teaching in my Awana class filled with youth I turned to show them a few women who touched my life in a special way that are now in the arms of heaven. Ms. Venida Powers, Ms. Maxine Hoffman and Ms. Virgina Burt. These ladies were all special. Ms. Venida was that woman who would take you in her arms and hold you while you cried. She gave me wisdom when I was lacking and love when I needed it so much. Ms. Maxine was the servant. She served in every way she could. And Ms. Virgina made the best candy I have ever tasted in my life. She was to teach me her recipe when she came home from the hospital, but that was never to be. I mentioned these ladies to my class to give an example of ladies who walked in great faith. I can speak that about them more than anything else. These three ladies all went through hard times, but through each one they stayed firm in their faith. They were the examples to me and others that watched them walk just as Paul was to Timothy.

When I woke this morning it was just one of those mornings where tears fell. Some days are just harder than others and you begin to wonder when it all is going be okay again. You begin to question if you can do this or not. You cry out to God, but you wonder if He is listening. And you begin to question your faith. You either have it or you don't. Plain and simple. If I have faith why am I allowing my fears to overtake me? If I have faith why am letting the unknown of tomorrow grasp all of my attention? We let our hurts bring us down and we let anger consume us before we know it we are bitter inside.

My friend I don't know what is on your heart today, but mine is stirred with all sorts of emotions. The fear of my husband not working is taking its toll. The past two years have carried much stress, but also blessings. The Lord has allowed me to see my daughter marry and be there when little Peyton came into this world. I have watched my son graduate high school and my mother overcome a battle after battle of illness. If I focus just on my battles I will forget to smile at all the blessings around me. Each day even in the battle the sun is shining somewhere. This road is not easy. We cannot allow the hard to overshadow the wonder of life. As each trial has come into our lives it has taught me to lean on the Lord that much more. I simply cannot do it without Him. I don't know how this world faces all around us without a faith in Christ. There are many needs across our land. We have hurting people crying out for help. Even when we are in the darkest battles we have ever faced we can be a light to those around us just by being real. Just by showing our faith. God knows we are going to struggle, but we can face those struggles with One greater than any mountain we will ever climb. We must believe and have hope.

Being still is not easy, but in that quietness of the night God will reach out and comfort. Our battles are faced and won. The races have begun and we are rounding the bend. Our crops are out and we are awaiting a harvest. Our circumstances might not be too quick to change, but through them we can change. We don't have to be defined by our circumstances, but we can bring definition through them. It can be our witness and testimony of faith. Walk today with determination and your head held high. We can be as the farmer, the athlete and the soldier. We can look to them for examples of great faith. We can look to our Lord and Savior for strength in our faith.

Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
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