pecaspers: a Blog in transition

February 28, 2016

Making the Race Harder

We went to Burger King for dinner tonight because our kids needed some time running around on a playground and… No, no “and,” the playground was the deciding factor.

After most of the food was consumed and the simple enjoyment of climb, slide, run, repeat wore off, my very competitive son challenged my wife to a race. Up the playset, down the twisty slides, the first one back wins. So that was fun for a few rounds with Mommy and/or Sister. Then Daddy got in on the action. Then we took a break, ate a couple more fries, split a cookie four ways, etc. 

Racing resumed with an added trip up the playset and down the double slide. Mommy sat out a couple rounds watching the baby while I let my boy win and my girl came in a distant third. When Mommy entered into the final race (leaving me to sit out), the course changed again. This time it was Mommy who made the race harder. Too hard for herself, in fact. The race became this: up the playset, down the twisty slides, back up the playset, down the double slide, through the tunnel under the playset, and back to start. 

That tunnel is easy for a 5 year-old to run through. Not so for his 20-something mommy; she had to crawl. It was hard to watch. Do I laugh, do I encourage, do I feel sorry for my sweet wife struggling to finish a meaningless race against our son?

Here’s where I landed.

I laughed at and with my wife, I cheered for her as she crawled to an embarrassing defeat of her own design, and I felt sorry for all of us humans for all the times we’ve made the race harder for ourselves. 

In the Bible, the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes at one point, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1,‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

Adding needless complexity can make things better when you’re talking playground fun. That’s not the case with life in general nor with the Christian life in particular. God has good things for you to experience for your enjoyment, hardships he intends you to endure for the sake of developing your character, and comfort to give you so that you can comfort others (note: only hurting people need comforting). So the life your Father in Heaven wants for you will be a hard enough race to run, hard in an ultimately good way mind you.

The trouble is that we make the hard-in-a-good-way race harder in a bad way when we deviate from the course set before us. We add trips into dark valleys only to have to climb steep cliffs to get back out. We stop to attend to some distraction and let the race get away from us such that we must run all the harder to catch up. We pick up extra weights which we’re told add to the fun but merely add to the difficulty of running the race. 

My father-in-law runs marathons. I can’t imagine him getting halfway through the Boston Marathon in April and deciding to run an extra mile off the course to pick up a Big Mac, a pack of cigarettes, and pair of 20-pound dumbbells, you know, just to make the race more interesting. That’s insane. No one does that. I also can’t imagine him cutting down a sidestreet to shorten the race. That’s cheating, and it disqualifies one from finishing and receiving any award.

So why do we do that kind of thing so often? Usually, it’s because we aren’t thinking about the consequences of our actions, like my wife who didn’t think about how she would get through a tunnel designed for children. You get to make many real choices in life, but you never get to choose the consequences of your choices. 

Think about it.

Are you making the race harder for yourself? How is that working for you? What do you need to do to get back on course? (Hint: Give Hebrews 11 & 12 a read for starters.)

April 18, 2013

Putting Her Shoes On

A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook wall about her daughter being so convinced that she was about to go to the store to get a pink scooter that she was putting her shoes on. The mom was not planning on going anywhere. It was raining outside. A new pink scooter was not in the family budget. Nevertheless, girl thought she needed her shoes because, I imagine, she just “knew” she was about to go get a scooter.

I think that’s part of what Jesus means when he tells us we must have faith like a child if we are to enter his Kingdom (Matt. 18:1-4, Mark 10:13-16, and elsewhere). We are to trust in Him and act on that trust no matter what.

It’s also a beautiful picture of this little girls hope in the goodness of her parents. Mommy is good, and pink scooters are good, therefor Mommy will take me to the store to get a pink scooter. It’s time to put my shoes on.

In this respect, I’m reminded of Luke 11:9-13:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (ESV, emphasis mine)

Christians are to pray expecting our good Father to give us the good gifts for which we ask. And as Luke here points out, the best of what God has to give is Himself. He gives His Holy Spirit, not begrudgingly, freely to His Children. He has already given His Son to take away our sin and give us new life. He has also given the Holy Spirit as His seal, His stamp of approval, His mark of authenticity for those He has redeemed. It is our part to have a firm, confident, faithful hope in the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in us. We are to be being filled by the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

With our faith and hope resting solidly on the goodness of God, we are to trust that the gift is given and walk in light of it. Put on the Spirit of Christ, walk in faithful obedience no matter what feelings or circumstances may try to keep you from it.

It’s raining, mom’s not getting ready, we can’t afford it… Would you put your shoes on?

Truth is, she’s getting a scooter, mom found a deal, it’s on its way, but it isn’t pink. Hey, every illustration breaks down somewhere.

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