Oct 2, 2007

you asked for it: marathons and walls

Ed G has put forth a very practical question: Paul writes that we must run for the prize -- but do you ever feel like you're in a marathon and you just "hit the wall"?


It's just you.


I'm jezz keeding...

I think this is one of the hardest parts about our faith, and often it's a roadblock we set up for ourselves. I'm preaching through a series right now called Movement, and the thing I keep seeing over and over again (especially in the life of the Israelites after the Exodus) is how often we erect our own hurdles and walls to the Promised Land God has for us. It's worth a listen to the series, but allow me to offer a few thoughts of summary:

1) The Roadblock/wall of fear: How many times have we been on the edge of something absolutely amazing with God and can even see how cool He is and His blessing is... only we throw out the word "but" and then it all goes downhill?
  • "I see how this habit is destroying me, Father, but..."

  • "I know you have a plan for my financial life, God, but..."

  • "I get that you want me to work on that relationship, Lord, but..."
They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. (Numbers 13:26-28a)
2) The Roadblock/wall of self: Often we see our backgrounds as meager when compared to what God would invite us into. In Joshua's life, he started out as a rugged young warrior then spent time as Moses' intern... which meant everything from carrying the big guy's tent and laundry to going on extended treks up the side of the mountain. Yet when God called out the next leader for the thousands and thousands of Israelites to follow, he picked this scrub. Would you allow Him to pick you for something great, too, or will you allow your past to become a roadblock?

Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." (Exodus 17:9)

Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. (Exodus 24:13)

3) The Roadblock/wall of control: How much risk in our life do we avoid because it would mean we would be out of control? Sometimes we know the step we need to take, but because it would mean not knowing/controlling everything we hold back. To counter this, we need to acknowledge who God is, believe that what He has said is true, commit to follow Him, determine there is no turning back, and enjoy the journey... wherever it takes us. Otherwise, all that we fear happening just might.

"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 'How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, 'As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.''" (Numbers 14:26-30)
4) The Roadblock/wall of preparation: When the opportunity is presented to finally walk over the line into the Promised land, will you be ready? How we spend the "everyday" moments matter more than we realize... whether it's killing time or producing "muscles" for the road ahead. The way we interact with Jesus Christ, His Church, our community, and all of culture right now will determine what we're able to do in the future... so let's prepare prayerfully, financially, and invitationally so that lives are forever changed.

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: "Go through the camp and tell the people, 'Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.' " (Joshua 1:10-11)

So hopefully those are some proactive thoughts, but I also think that sometimes when you hit a wall it's one of the best times to cry out to God. Sometimes worship is best when it comes from a dry mouth... sometimes the best prayers come from hot tears.

During such a time in my life, I made this video... and for those out there in need, may its honesty guide you closer to the Lord.


David Malouf -- said...

Good post.

On a technical note, your link to your sermons is at comma-org, not dot org.

Yet when you fix that, this comment will remain. Weird.

Takes postmodern absolutes to an interesting place . . .

brian said...

I swear you have some feed to God on this stuff or something. Just what I needed today.

Simone said...

what an amazing video. God is so gracious and He loves to meet us in times like this, I guess it's when we realise we have nothing but Him. Thanks, and Happy Birthday BTW!

Ed G. said...

The video was very kewl.

Liked the post, thanks. Guess I'll have to tackle these one by one. Earlier this year, a friend helped me realize that my need to control things was holding me back from tithing (like, I'm sure Jesus would want me to send this $500 into the American Idol Fight for Hunger fund instead of church). Giving the walls names is a good idea -- when you can see them coming, could be a little easier to get over them.

Rachele said...

Thanks for the video.

Tony Myles said...

The catch, I think, is that we often know the pathway (i.e. tithing) but still think our map is better than God's. Not to say that American Idol couldn't use another dollar or more for their cause, but I like resourcing the church so that when global/local care is given it's more than merely physical. Another topic, I suppose, but it's a good thing to wrestle with