My father-in-law used to say to me often when I was about to leave his house, “Timothy, keep it between the ditches.” Good advice for driving and pretty good advice for life as well. Now I’m the sort of guy who has never let the weather interfere with my schedule that much. I guess it’s the old Harts manager in me that had to get out and go to work regardless of driving conditions. The doors had to be open for business rain or shine. Neither rain, nor sleet nor snow shall… well you get the picture. So as I have Pastored for the last 18 years and kept an office schedule each week I just have it ingrained in me that when the sun is up and I am supposed to be in the office, I go there. Like many of you, I have driven on some pretty bad roads in the past. I remember once sliding sideways through an intersection in a Chevrolet Astro mini-van at five AM in the morning with a hot cup of coffee strategically balanced, not spilling a drop mind you as I corrected my trajectory and continued my course. Now maybe I’m just getting older or maybe it’s because I’m a little more experienced, whichever the case may be I am a striving to be more observant than in the past.
These episodes remind me of something the apostle Paul prayed for the believers in a little town called Colossi. He writes, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” Paul here gives us a principle or two in these verses that still apply to our lives today as followers of Christ. First he prays that they will know and understand the will of God, “that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Knowing that God has a plan for your life, and walking in that plan is the only way to live! Secondly Paul prays that their practice might agree with their profession. Notice, We are to practice what we preach, now more than ever before. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching. He reminds us that we need God’s power in our lives to live and to serve Him.” Paul also prays that they have power for their practice. “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power.” I believe it was Mark Twain that said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” Lastly Paul reminds us that we are to remain thankful for all we experience in the Lord. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Erma Bombeck, a great humorist of days past once wrote, “An estimated 1.5 million people are living today after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, “I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!” The kid is right! Are you thankful for what you have and for who you are in Christ? I believe that Pastor Paul’s prayer was for a group of Christ followers to experience the very best that God has for them. I am confident that this same loving and caring God wants the very best for you as well.
The place, Mexico City, The event, The 1968 Olympic games… He came out of the cold darkness, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania entered at the far end of the stadium, pain hobbling his every step, his leg bloody and bandaged. The winner of the marathon had been declared over an hour earlier. Only a few spectators remained. But the lone runner pressed on. As he crossed the finish line, the small crowd roared out its appreciation. Afterward, a reporter asked the runner why he had not retired from the race, since he had no chance of winning. He seemed confused by the question. Finally, he answered: “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish.” Don’t forget, it not only matters how we run, it matters how we finish! Keep it between the ditches!