I was not a runner when Jim McWhinnie was my pastor; it wasn't even a consideration. But lately, when I have been questioning my "distance/endurance running illness" he always seems to have just what I need to hear. I absolutely love it when he says something that strikes right at my heart. This one is right on, as usual when God is speaking "just to you." As runners, and fellow endurance athletes I hope you will receive a personal message as well.
Blessings to you all.
Friday, September 12, 2008
High Standards and Bountiful Grace
"The scribes and the Pharisees tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to do anyting to help lift them with as much as a finger." - Matthew 23:4
Jesus had concerns with the religious leadership of his day. They set set high moral demands for the people, but did nothing to help. But where was the fault ... in the eyes of Jesus ... the high standards or the lack of understanding grace?
A very subtle error we can make is to understand "grace" as meaning "anything goes" or "low expectations". Grace is not involved in the setting of the high standard of excellence but in the helping of one to get to that higher excellence.
In the Olympics, the amazing athletes who run the marathon are to accomplish what for most of us seems to be an impossible task. At one of the recent Olympic Games, the officials were concerned for the detrimental effect that the higher than usual heat and humidity might have on the well-being of the runners. But still they ran the marathon at the same distance, but increased the number of water stations and installed cool spray machines along the way.
The marathon is the highest standard of moral excellence; the heat and humidity are symbols of our human frailty; the water stations and the cool spray machines are the grace of God. Some would disagree with me about the need for both high standards and bountiful grace, but this I do believe.
PRAYER FOCUS: Lord, I am willing and committed to running the race but I must confess, I certainly could use Your help ...