I’m Fee, and I LOVE an analogy. Those of you who are Greenpark oldies might remember my baptism testimony where I used the analogy of surfing to describe my journey with God. Recently God has been teaching me about endurance, both physically and spiritually. For those that don't know me, I am slightly obsessed with running. I started running in March and could barely run the length of myself, and now I've well and truly caught the bug! I find it hard to have a conversation now without mentioning it (sorry!). God has been so gracious in giving me this outlet, it is not just my therapy, I am also amazed how he uses it to speak to me.
Hebrews 12:1 says “...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with endurance the race marked out for us”
Running a race takes training, you can't be unprepared, do no training, and expect the race to go perfectly. I put a lot of effort into training, I try to eat the right things and I work on my strength and endurance so that I can do the best I can on race day. But am I as prepared for the “race” that God has set out for me? Do I prepare myself enough, read my bible for guidance, and for spiritual food? I’m not sure I put as much effort into my “spiritual training” as I do my running! Studying the bible, praying, listening to talks/sermons, small groups etc are all ways to “train” and increase those muscles of faith! And like training for any sport, only doing one type of training will leave you lacking, it's important to get your training from a wide range of sources.
Easy runs are great, they build your confidence and feel great, but it's the difficult ones that really build your endurance. I have learnt recently that it doesn't matter how well you prepare and how many miles you log, races will not always go well. How true is that of life? You feel like you’ve done all the right things, taken what you thought was the right path and somehow you find yourself lost and wonder how on earth you got there. But God is so gracious, he often uses our struggles even more than our successes. In order to build strength, you're actually causing micro tears in the muscle (sounds pretty painful right?) but your body repairs this and makes it stronger! Sometimes you can feel like you're being torn down, but God will repair you and make you stronger. This healing can take time, be patient, it will build your endurance for future troubles. After all we are frequently reminded in the bible that we will not get an easy ride!
You can't run this race on your own strength, you need your support guy. God gives you the energy you need. He runs with you, and like any good coach, he has the best advice! We also have an amazing reward at the end of this race, better than any fancy medal, t-shirt or free banana! Listening to Andrew Yule's talk a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the words “if it is not good, it's not the end”. We can take so much comfort in that no matter how hard the race that is life, the end is good! I've heard there's lots of feasting too and who doesn't love a good post-race feast? So whatever your race looks like, train well, rely on your coach, endure the injuries. Remember the finish line and look forward to the post race party!
I’ve never really written a blog before, in fact I’ve never even written notes when asked to speak; so this is very different for me. I came to know Jesus personally when I was 18 years old. I never meant to give my life or say the prayer! I had said yes without realising what the person had actually asked me. To cut a long story short I asked God to prove to me that he was real, and I gave him a year to do that.
Well that obnoxious prayer was the best thing that I have ever done as He has been the best decision I have ever made and would never change. I love reading my bible, books, scribbling notes, listening to various sermons etc but what has changed my life the most and kept me close in my walk is my prayer life. The church that I was brought into held it very important to the Christian walk, like the air you breathe and to be honest, it is lifeblood to the struggling or the bold.
Prayer to me comes easy, it is just talking to my father, who loves me, cares for me and has my back. How could I not speak to him? I think people struggle with prayer because they complicate it, it really does not matter if you stumble or weep over your words or even if you feel stupid. When my son was young and learning to speak, he would miss the start and end of some words. It was nonsense to others but I always knew what he had said when he spoke to me; his mother. I would often repeat what he had said correctly back to him, I don’t think he even noticed as he probably thought, “yes that’s what I just said”. When you understand that that is exactly how God approaches us; how can you not speak (pray)? When, like a parent, He loves to hear his child’s voice. Thanking him, praising Him or really just really opening up and just saying “I’m really struggling right now, I can’t do this anymore, this hurts; please help.”
Prayer opens doors, the first door is getting it off your chest and you open yourself up to the fact that we can’t manage on our own strength! We need “Our Father.” Funny that that was exactly what Jesus taught us to say, to start right there. He is “our”, my, personal; mine. Just like our child knows we are theirs so we should know, God is ours! We are his and He loves to hear our voice.
Prayer opens many doors, sometime we just need to ask once, sometimes we have to be like the nagging widow; there are no set rules! We should pray in every season- when we have a lot to be thankful for or even when you have nothing to give. The best prayers can come from a place of nothing! I pray when I’m driving, when I’m cleaning the house or doing the gardening, my favourite is to walk around the house praying then there comes that moment when you know; it’s done- it’s hit the mark and there is a peace, a stillness a quietness of spirit draws close.
I don’t believe that prayer is just for a few; I believe we are all called to pray and it is our duty. I know myself when struggling how reassuring it is to know that people are covering us with their prayers in time of great need. In those places when you can do nothing and all strength is gone- you are being held by the prayers of the saints (and that’s you by the way- his people are his saints!) Many a time it has been a relief to know people are praying into whatever situation I am facing. Yes, prayer works. Yes, it changes everything- including ourselves! No one is perfect. No one is better than anyone else-, the more you pray, the more confident you’ll become! Remember- you are praying to the one who loves you the most. The one who does not mock, but waits patiently. He will always be your loving Father.
Ladies, you're invited to our bible journaling event, 10am on the 27th of October at Camelon Community Centre! Bible journaling is a creative approach to exploring God’s word and many people find it a helpful approach to help them to explore, remember and apply scripture to their daily life.
This event is for everyone - seasoned artist or nervous novice! If you have a journaling bible, please bring it along, but if you don’t it won’t matter at all! All materials will be provided so don’t worry about bringing art supplies as we have plenty to go round. Throughout the morning there will be examples of how women in our own church have grown their understanding of the bible through journaling and also plenty of time for us to be creative.
There will be tea, coffee, pastries and chat for us to enjoy while we create. The event costs £2.50 and that will be payable on the day. Any questions feel free to get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.