Tuesday, August 19, 2008

a child at play, behind ministry

Back during my school days, when I ran cross country and track, the coaches I had always made us stretch out before and after races. I did what I was told, but I did not like it too much.

Somehow, to me, it usually seemed like a waste of time. I know other people who enjoy stretching. They even look forward to it. I don't, I tend to think it is foolish...at least I did until recently.

While in Peru this summer, we did a great deal of walking. Especially in the mountain village of Huamachuco. As a result I lost weight.

This makes me happy. Since being home, I have tried to maintain this new body, by running. I have run or walked every day I have been back except for a couple. I have always preferred running, but will walk when necessary.

It has become necessary because I don't like to stretch.

It isn't that I don't understand the need to stretch, it's that I don't like it. I try to rush through it. The problem is, that as I rush through it, to get to the part I feel is more helpful, more enjoyable, I have caused myself unecessary suffering.

When I don't stretch enough, my calf muscle ties itself in a knot during my exertion. Sometimes it hurts so much I have to stop running and walk. I have managed to do this several times now.

That wouldn't be so bad except that it doesn't let go when I get home...it remains knotted for a couple of days and makes me walk funny.

I had something of a rather obvious epiphany on Sunday while Deanna and I were completing our four mile circuit. Actually she spoke it into me.

What seemed completely obvious to her wasn't to me due to stubborness.

At the time it seemed brilliant. It would have been equally brilliant if I had written it down...I didn't have a pen on our walk.

Anyway, she said something like, "stretch now or pay later." From there we discussed how a lack of preparation produces inferior results...more painful results.

I am planning to spend more time stretching before running, from here on out.

This same principle applies to our walk with Christ. We routinely show up at church or Bible study without having done any preparation, yet expect to have remarkable worship experiences.

We must prepare our hearts. For many of us the push to even arrive on time on Sunday morning results in families frustrated with each other. Our attitudes upon arrival are anything but Christ-like.

We often end up enduring the service, rather than participating, or bringing our best to our King.

In both scenarios, we need to shift our priorities. The preparation time is necessary in order to reap the most significant experience.

While worship is not about us, and if we go in "me-focused" we will exit later, unfulfilled, the point is to bring God glory with all that we are. When we do this, we experience His pleasure in significant ways.

I'm going to start putting more emphasis on preparation! I don't like pain, and this is one way to avoid it!



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