As the summer of 2012 comes to an end, I (Patty) reflect back when it first started and the Hope I had in what it would bring. You see, I had started an exercise routine back in June because I needed to get physically fit for my upcoming vacation. Each day I got up, read through my devotion, went for a twenty-minute walk/jog, and then came home to do sit-ups and stretches. I ended my routine with a twenty-minute cool-down while reading through the scripture outlined in the earlier devotion. After two months of this daily regimen I somehow felt it did not pan out as I Hoped it would. For a brief moment I had a sense of failure in not seeing my Hope of “Getting in Shape” fulfilled.
I wondered was it really failure? Yes I had increased my jogging to go around the whole path in the nearby park without stopping but I had not lost any weight or feel any more physically fit. Was I really in any better physical shape? After two whole months of rigorous, painful exercise, sweat and aches, was I any better off?
In all honesty, I realized in that brief moment, my sense of failure came from the human side of what I wanted to see… a better looking physique. Unfortunately, I didn’t see myself looking that much different. Perhaps vanity got in the way. In any event, my human nature would have me believe all my efforts were in vain.
Fortunate for me, my time spent with God revealed otherwise. I quickly rekindled the time I spent each day in prayer and devotion and knew it was not all a loss. Hebrews 12:1-2 says;
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (NIV).
Each day as I set out to jog farther, my initial fixation to persevere was two-fold without my knowledge. I set out to strengthen my body; not realizing this included my spiritual body as well. God longs to spend time with us. I saw Him each and every day not only in my devotion but also when I jogged. Each day, He brought new reflection into my thoughts and prayer. I know now my “Getting in Shape” was not necessarily to be all physical. It was definitely meant to be spiritual. I know God will not force us to spend time with Him. Hebrews reminds us we must give up whatever endangers our time with God and run patiently (in my case jog) with the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot do it alone! We will stumble if we look away, so we should always keep God in site and look for His light.
Personally, I use visual metaphors. The morning sun was probably my biggest. Some days it was bright and others it was hidden. It often shined through trees and reflected off of the house windows. Most days the Son lit my morning path as I tried to improve my weary body.
Looking back, I can see how every day it enriched my heart. When we know we are not alone, we can face hardship and discouragement together. God helps us persevere and finish the race. He may not always have us finish first but we have to remember it is not always about winning. Some of us need to just get in the race and persevere to reach the finish line. Suffering is the training ground for Christian maturity. We must endure these sufferings with the power of the Holy Spirit that God so richly provides. We just have to fix our eyes on Jesus and not how hard the race may be.
So as this summer of 2012 comes to an end, I do see Hope was fulfilled after all. I successfully managed to “Get in Shape”. It may not be the “Shape” I had originally envisioned, but I admit, my visions are not always clear. That is why I choose to look and ask for God’s vision as my guiding light. Jeremiah 29:11 reads;
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (NIV).
If Ray has taught me anything, it is this… Our vision and hope must be aligned with God’s hope and vision. He suggests the way to do this is the following:
- Ask God – What do you want me to do?
- Listen for His answer
- Say yes to what He calls us to do
- Use the Grace God provides to do it
- Wait and see Hope fulfilled
Quoting Ray from last week’s blog, “God will never give up on us. Regardless of what we do or don’t do, wherever we go, whatever the time of day or time of life, God will be working toward fulfilling our hopes, provided that they are in tune with God’s hopes for us and that we do our part in achieving them”.
What do you Hope for? Have you asked God what He wants you to do? I encourage you to “Get in Shape”, spiritual shape that is. Read His word, pray without ceasing and most important team up with someone who can support and hold you accountable to spend time with God. I have been blessed to have this in my friend and mentor Ray. May you blessed as well.
Grace and peace, Patty
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty and Ray