You would think the older we get, the more excuses we would have, right? I suppose the older we get, the more excuses we USE would be more accurate. In my study of the verses in Philippians 3, as we go through Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George, that picture of running a race is unavoidable. But I find it so HARD sometimes, this race I am to run. Do you?
In order to run this race, we can’t have things weighing us down. Hebrews 12:1 mentions weights and sin. I think it goes without saying that sin will weigh us down. I won’t expound on that point. We are completely sidelined when we have unconfessed sin. So what are those weights?
What Weights are NOT
At my age, as I consider running my race, it would be logical to consider things like my aging body and chronic pain as things that hinder my race. But those are NOT weights in this race!! This is a spiritual race. We can’t uses excuses like our finances, our job, or our stage in life. Look at Paul, the author of the letter to the Philippians, which I might add, he wrote while IN PRISON. Um…yeah…we can’t even use being in prison as an excuse. Paul was busy about running his race while he was in chains. Poor me, right?
The REAL Things Weighing Us Down?
We have determined what these “weights” are not. So what ARE the things that weigh us down or hold us back from focusing on the prize and running the spiritual race with the stamina that a true believer should have? Elizabeth George asked her husband this question and his answer was “Always television and food!” Lest you think that’s a silly answer, think about it. The “world” bombards us constantly via the television screen. Worldviews that distract us from our purpose, visuals that pull us into the lust of the flesh (for men AND women), and let’s not forget just the waste of time that television can be. I personally can attest to this one. Especially with a chronic illness keeping me at home and sometimes in bed, it is easy to depend on “the tube” for passing the time. I’m not saying the television is a sin in and of itself, but it is an ever increasingly strong pull towards it.
Bad habits are another example Mrs. George mentions in this chapter. Or perhaps the lack of developing those GOOD habits to replace the bad ones? The habit of postponing that early time with the Lord each day. We all know how easy is it to let it get sidelines altogether. What about the habit of turning to food when we need comfort? Food can never be a true source of comfort and there is the huge potential to develop health issues because of the fact that we deny the Lord the opportunity to carry us through dark times. Obviously there are more, but I think you see the point I am trying to make.
There have been several godly older men in the lives of my husband and I who have expressed, and lived out before us, the idea that Christians don’t “retire.” They may retire from a secular job, but it shouldn’t be to just live out the rest of ones life in ease or luxury. Older godly saints have so much wisdom to share with those coming along after them and they must be about the service of the Lord till the end, whatever those latter days appear to be. What a wonderful time to teach in the local assembly or go to the mission field! The opportunities are many.
Those Who Have Gone Before Us
Elizabeth shares several examples in chapter 16 of people, in the Bible and some more current, that ran the race TO THE END. Abraham was 100 when Sarah gave birth to Issac. Here I am 51, with my children leaving the nest and aging parents to look after. CAN YOU IMAGINE? God knew that they could do it because it was HE who would give them the strength TO do it.
Moses was 80 years old when God asked him to lead an entire people group out of slavery. He was with them for 40 years in the wilderness and even after that, no excuses were acceptable to God for his sin during that time. He was not allowed to enter the promised land. He was 120 when he died.
John was an old man when he was exiled to Patmos. It was during that time that God gave him The Revelation and asked him to write it down for the church’s edification.
Both Corrie ten Boom and Amy Carmichael suffered health issues in later life and spent their latter years bedridden, but still in the ministry of prayer and encouragement to the body of Christ.
Where Are You?
Are you in your more senior years like me? Are you a younger believer? Do you have a husband or children? Perhaps you are still single? It does not matter where you are in this life. We don’t know if we will live to be 100 or if we will die tomorrow. How are you running TODAY’S race? Run it well! Examine your life and remove the “weights and sin” that hold so tightly to you. In fact, come up with a tangible goal regarding this very thing. For me, my “screen” time is a huge pull, whether it be the television or my computer. I commit to not get on either this week until I have spent time with the Lord first. Please, hold me accountable! Email me or message me here. I’d love to hear from you and even encourage you as you work to lay aside your own weights. May those watching us be inspired and bless as we run our race, pressing on to the prize.