“It is not enough to take steps which may someday lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This last weekend, Oct. 14-16, was the Men’s Retreat for Magnolia Bible Church. It was a great time of fun and fellowship with my fellow brothers in Christ. We had two men profess faith in Christ on Saturday night, which is always a cause for celebration. We had a speaker who spoke about men rising up and being the leaders we need to be for our families, our neighborhood, our Church, and our community. He actually worded it that we need to be the Pastors of our streets.
Originally, I was going to be spending the weekend up at University of Texas Dallas for the Texas Leadership Conference for Phi Theta Kappa, the two year college International Honor Society. Upon finding out that our men’s retreat was going to be on the same weekend, I almost decided to forgo the men’s retreat. This was not God’s plan for me, and almost as immediately as I contemplated not going to the retreat, I was convicted and decided to instead forgo the Leadership conference.
The truth of the matter is that there has been a whole lot of sin and junk going on in my life over the past month or two. Although there were many days in which I was still able to kind of demonstrate a good Christian walk, there were many days when I was not even faking it well. In fact about three to four weeks ago I chose to again satisfy my love for sin instead of my love for my Savior. This has lead to a lot of tension, of course, between my wife, children, and I. In fact it was enough to have the Elders of our Church decide that indeed it was for my best interest that for the time being I not partake in any roles that resemble leadership in the Church.
On Saturday night I was talking to the head of our men’s ministry, just letting him know how much I appreciate his heart and willingness in leading the men of our Church. I was not intending to speak to him for any length of time, but he felt the need to talk with me. This is something I greatly appreciate about Rickey.
Rickey is a great man of God, and also nice and blunt, which is something I both appreciate and need. As we were talking Rickey again challenged me with some things to think about. Being raised by a Pastor, as I was, I am very knowledgeable in things of the Scriptures. In each of the sessions of study I took notes, and in the last three sessions our speaker had us break up into groups to debrief from the previous one. Since I had notes I ended up leading the small group I participated in, in the sense of refreshing from our previous session. Rickey told me that every time he sees me sharing the knowledge I have been blessed with he just thinks, “What a waste”. I have all of this head knowledge and it hasn’t made any difference in my spiritual walk. He again challenged me that I have to be credible if I’m going to be of any benefit to the Men’s Ministry, and he reiterated that the men’s ministry needs people like me. He told me, “Paul, you are going to be heartbroken if you are sitting on the sidelines as you see this ministry take off, I know that.” You know what? He is right.
Rickey is an older man, and in great physical shape. He regularly works out, and in fact was going running with a couple of the other men the next morning. I use to enjoy running, although I haven’t been in quite some time, really probably since my junior year of High School. I decided to go running with these men the next morning.
The title of this post is the Run of my life, so now let me tell you why I chose this title. As I joined the men that Sunday morning I started off on a pretty nice, steady pace, and was in fact ahead of two of the men whom I was running with, and maintaining an even distance with the third. However, this lasted for only about four to five hundred meters, and all of a sudden I’m breathing heavily, and need to, in fact, just slow to a walk for a brief period of time to catch my breath. I was then able to run for probably another three to four hundred meters before I again had to slow to a walk, and then another two hundred meters before I finished off…walking.
During one of the times of running I also hit a pothole in the asphalt, and almost got tripped up, however I was able to maintain my balance, but it did cause a little pain in my ankle that I rolled. Throughout the run and definitely in that moment, I almost fell, I had a revelation. This run was a picture of my Spiritual walk.
Like many people who profess faith, I started off with a fire and a passion that could not be quenched. This was a race I was running with all the energy and strength I could muster. As the days and weeks rolled by and now years, life happened. This of course has often lead me to a point of either walking in my spiritual life, or quite frankly, standing still. I remember shortly after my wife and I got married we again were returning to a point of passion and fire, again running the race set before us. This led me to create Biblically Born Again Ministries, and work alongside my dear brother, Dave Jenkins, and help with Servants of Grace, and participate with Lynn Davenport in Alpha and Omega.
Then life happened. Sin crept into my life, or I simply chose to quit running, and then I saw these things I was so passionate about, for a time, simply fade away and disappear. In 2008 it got to a point where I even denied my faith. Why would I do such a foolish thing? The answer is quite simple. I again loved my sin more then I loved my Savior. I thought I wanted what I wanted regardless of how bad it was for me and my family. This of course also led me to step down from working alongside Dave Jenkins.
In the middle to end of 2008 I again returned to a passion and began my study of 1 John. Although there have still been sin struggles throughout my study of 1 John, for the most part I was again running the race. My relationship with my Savior was the focus of my drive and my family has benefitted from that. It even got to the point where I again could serve in the capacity of teaching the two and three year olds at Church.
Well, now I slowed back down to a walk, but by the grace of God, He has placed people in my life who are not going to let me get away with falling out of the race. What is also equally important is I’m not going to let myself be satisfied with that which I know brings no joy or happiness to life. Yes, I chose my sin over my Savior, over my family, and over myself, but I am not going to be satisfied walking in this race. The LORD has done so many great things in my life, and the goal of my life should be to glorify Him!
As I think of the quote I began this blog with I see something I never thought about. I have not looked at each step as a goal to glorify my Savior. I have looked at each step of my spiritual run as a step that benefits me, and that is not what this race is about. Today, I’m sharing with you all the run of my life in the hope that you will see that your life is a run as well. Are you going to run the race for Christ so you can hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant”? Or are you running the race for yourself? I tell you now that if you aren’t trying to glorify Christ, you may feel happy for a time, but the run you are on will only lead to destruction and heartache. Believe me, I know!