Starting strong is important, we make New Years' resolutions on 1 January - determined to make this a better year, to better our lives and the lives of our families and friends.
But any seasoned athlete will tell you that starting out with good intentions is not good enough. Starting out is "easy" compared to the endurance needed during the difficult times.
Each journey has a beginning, a middle and an end. If you decide to run a 100 mile marathon you will need to train continuously. Changing your diet and making a considerable amount of sacrifices. Starting out right, then spending 4 years on the cough will not help you to win the race.
We are talking about apathy, growing tired, giving up too soon.
Some of us seem to suffer from a short attention span, or A.D.D. we seem so distractable. So easy for us to change course...
Lost the plot
How many people have started down a path, then years later found that they have changed. They started out with the best of intentions, with integrity and then somewhere along the way they lost it.
Newsboys sing a song called, “It's all who you know” and another called, “Lost the plot.” One of the mishaps is of an expedition team that lost direction. “For the one of direction the huskies went off course - took some time to free ‘em, now their on display inside a British museum.” Sometimes even a small deviation, can make a big difference. Consider a luxury cruise liner; if it deviates only 10 degrees off course it will be about 80 km off course after a 500 km journey.
In “Lost the plot” they sing of an apathetic person, someone who is now too tired to get something from the fridge. They make a lot of comparisons of people who started well, and now:
- too selfish and self centred to care about others
- cannot follow God any more
- forgotten their first love
- can't hear God's voice any more
- forgot what God did for them
What am I saying? We need to stay strong! It’s May and half the year is almost behind us. For some of us, half our lives are behind us. Have we started out strong? More importantly, have we stayed strong?
A marriage starts with a wedding, a celebration of two people who have sworn to stay together forever. Yet how many marriages don't last? You can't get married today and in 20 years time everything is fine – in spite of the fact that you have never again said “I love you” to your wife or done anything special for her. It simply does not work that way. Relationships are either built and made stronger OR they deteriorate!
With respect I would like to refer to a few people from the Bible. I say with respect, because none of us are perfect either - and it is easier for us to look back at them, then for us to have lived through what they did and have done a better job.
- Solomon built the temple, yet he introduced idolatry for his many wives years later.
- Samson was strong and made quite an impression, yet he died blind with tons of rubble falling on him.
- Judas started out as a disciple of Jesus, yet he died having betrayed Him.
Paul has a lot to say on the subject:
Paul is a man who travelled a lot, during a time when long journey's where not easy. He was ship wrecked, stoned to death and imprisoned. Do you think he got tired or maybe even discouraged?
1 Corinthians 10:12 “Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall.” CEV
This is a warning to those of us who feel we are better than others. We look down on them because of what they have done, thinking “we are better than that; we would never do that.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 “My dear friends, stand firm and don't be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile.” CEV
2 Corinthians 1:21 “And so God makes it possible for you and us to stand firmly together with Christ. God is also the one who chose us” CEV
Ephesians 3:17 “and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love.” CEV
The key is to be rooted in Christ's love. What happens to a tree that is not rooted? It will die. (Cross reference with Psalm 1)
Hebrews 12:12 “Now stand up straight! Stop your knees from shaking” CEV
At times we are tempted to shrink back in fear, but Paul wants to encourage us here – don't loose hope!
Staying strong takes effort and hard work. Without exercise muscles fade. To stay strong we need to continually make time for prayer, Bible study and contemplation. God wants to speak to us, wants to work through us, but sometimes our attention is on other things and we are too distracted to hear His voice...