By Jennifer Davis Rash
You would laugh if you knew how many different starts there were to this month’s column.
As I started each one, I truly thought it had potential and was excited to see how it developed. But none of them worked. They all fizzled after the midway point.
Maybe it was the wide range of emotions I’ve encountered over the past three to four weeks.
Maybe it was my strategically planned and extremely tight schedule that should have worked perfectly but never did.
Maybe it was all the interesting ways I’ve seen God show up in the routines of each day this past month.
Whatever the reason for the stall, I’m not sure. But I do know that now I find myself suddenly inspired and speedily filling in my 600 (give or take 15 to 20) words as I take a break from packing.
After all, there’s certainly nothing that motivates you like a looming deadline. Plus I needed to stop obsessing about what was going in my overnight bag anyway.
My bag is light and filled mainly with running shoes, athletic clothing and protein bars. I’ve checked three times — yes, my running shoes are in the bag!
Around 40 of us are headed to Memphis to run/walk in a half-marathon to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in honor of my niece Belle (see October Rashional Thoughts for Belle’s story or visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/bellemitchell).
We’ll join about 18,000 others in the run, but we hope our Team Belle shirts will definitely make a statement.
Running is not necessarily my idea of fun nor am I any good at it, but the experience of training for something way out of my league has been a great exercise in discipline and perseverance.
I’ve encountered numerous obstacles and challenges to staying on track with my training. I’ve easily lost motivation to stay focused several times throughout the past six months. I’ve heard others on the team say the same thing.
Some garnered new work responsibilities and demands that kidnapped those extra minutes they used to spend training.
Some encountered health problems; some fractured bones.
Some faced major life decisions and found themselves too emotionally exhausted to lace up their running shoes.
Everyone’s story is different, and everyone’s point of decision is different. But everyone had to make the decision to start down the path and when the tough days came, they had to decide to keep going.
As far as I know, we haven’t lost one member of Team Belle. In fact, we gained a few along the way.
It’s like our spiritual journey. There are days when we feel like we could run the entire race that day. And then there are days we can’t put one foot in front of the other.
But we keep going, holding onto God’s promises and looking up.
First Corinthians 15:58 reminds us, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Psalm 17:5 reads, “My steps have held to Your paths; my feet have not slipped.”
So, just as Team Belle has trained and persevered for that glorious moment of crossing the finish line, I am reminded to do the same in the race to the ultimate finish line.
“Henry Ford once said he didn’t want executives who had to work all the time. He insisted that those who were always in a flurry of activity at their desks were not being the most productive. He wanted people who would clear their desks, prop their feet up and dream some fresh dreams. His philosophy was that only he who has the luxury of time can originate a creative thought. … Unfortunately our culture glamorizes being under pressure. Having too much to do with too little time is a badge of success. … (But many of the great leaders throughout history took time to think.) The apostle Paul took long walks between cities, using the time to think and talk. Andrew Carnegie would go into an empty room for hours at a time as he was ‘sitting for ideas.’ Thoreau wandered through the woods around Walden Pond, recognizing that the free time created fertile ground for original thinking. … If you are feeling stuck, your solution may not be in doing more, but in taking a break from the busyness of life.”
“48 Days to the Work You Love”
Unseen wind, unseen Spirit
By Kathi Holcomb
Hurricane season often brings more of an interest in the weather as many watch for any potential damaging storm on a path toward their hometown. … Some hurricanes bring danger of flooding while others bring danger of damaging winds. A hurricane that brings both is one which can bring about great devastation regardless of any preparation.
It is the wind of a storm which interests me the most. It is something you really cannot see. As I walk outside during the change of season when the air is crisp and cool, I cannot see the wind when it blows. Yet I can with absolute assurance tell you that the wind is blowing because the wind proves its existence in a very particular way.
We have all enjoyed its self-expression. The wind shows itself by its impact on the environment or objects within its path. Simply put, it can blow leaves off a tree or dishevel one’s beautifully styled hair. It can rage, causing trees to bend or houses to move off their foundation. … The evidence of wind is all around us. No one can deny this truth. The swirl of leaves and the chatter of branches on a cool fall day is confirmation enough that the wind is a tangible and viable element.
I have found that it is the same in our lives spiritually. John 3:8 says, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus, in this passage, is explaining the mystery of being born again to Nicodemus, a Pharisee. He told Nicodemus that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When Nicodemus questioned this new birth, Jesus then spoke the words about the wind in John 3:8. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that new birth comes from God alone and it is evidenced in the lives of those born again.
Like Nicodemus, we too can ask questions about new birth. “How is it evidenced in the lives of those born again?” Well, just like the wind in its self-expression, new birth is evidenced through what is seen lived out in the lives of those who have the Spirit.
The Spirit has a job to do and He does it well. It is His job to cause those who are born again to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). It is His job to bear fruit in the lives of those born again (Gal. 5:22). It is His job to enable us to love, forgive, persevere, extend grace and be more like Christ (2 Peter 1:3–4). And the truth is He will do His job.
Just like the invisible wind is seen in the power it has on the objects within its path, so too is the Spirit seen in the power He has within the hearts and lives of those who are indeed born again.
As those who have truly been born again, may He be seen by the world around us as we live our lives under the influence and by the abiding power of the unseen Spirit. He is really all they need to see.
What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of failing? Are you afraid of not being good enough? Are you afraid that God is displeased with you because you struggle with fear? Fear can be debilitating when we fear the wrong thing. But fear of the Lord is a different story. To fear Him is to begin to live in wisdom and lead with His power. The object of your fear makes all the difference!
Lead Like Jesus Inspired Online devotional
Day 331, Nov. 26, 2012
“A leader is a lifelong learner.”
Richard Schwein Jr.
Special agent in charge
Just as employers are preparing for end-of-year evaluations on employees, we should each be planning to do the same on ourselves. How did you do this year spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.?