"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Testament of Devotion

What a great title for a post about running! If there is one thing that most all of us runners can attest to, it’s that to have any degree of success (however you wish to define success) and to experience any level of lasting enjoyment with running, there must be some sense of devotion. It is rarely the case that a runner continues mile after mile, year after year, if there is not love, commitment, enthusiasm, consistency, or persistence for the sport.

STOP.  Now, consider your thoughts and personal reflections from this first paragraph.

This is not a post about running, though there are parallel truths. Rather it is a title taken from a collection of essays written in the late 1930’s by Quaker missionary, Thomas Kelly. And the question is this: As believers in Christ do we exhibit devotion in our daily faith? Does our devotion ascend beyond worldly attributes--listed above for running--and demonstrate itself through a more appropriate devotion of worship, piety, holiness, and reverence? Or does our devotion fall short of even that which we show for everything and everyone else around us?

One of Kelly’s primary points in the first essay, The Light Within, is that there is a place deep within us that ceases to be our "noisy workshop.” In this place we find a “holy sanctuary of adoration and devotion, where we are kept in perfect peace as our minds are on Him.”

The key is that when we are truly devoted, when we look to maintain a perpetual flame of this light within, we experience more of the moments for which we “are able to carry the sanctuary flame of the heart and mind and soul out into the world.” These are the moments that our love for God and love for others is most natural and complete.

Kelly goes on to suggest that a "conscious worship throughout the day, undergirded by living prayer in every moment, becomes the background to all moments of life.” He also stresses that living a devoted life is not an absentminded spiritual discipline, but one that allows us to walk, talk, laugh, work, and go about all the daily activities, while “behind the scenes, we are keeping up a life of simple prayer and inward worship.” What a great picture of going through the day!

Runners have a lot of free ‘mind time,’ Hours and hours of deep thought (mixed in with hours and hours of Springsteen playlists). Taking time to reflect on whether or not our witness is one of true devotion would be a challenging thought to wrestle with on the next long run. If we are to truly “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thes. 5:16-18), then it will require unparalleled devotion and the pursuit of a perpetual flame.

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