Faith as Extreme Sport.

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Today we celebrate Independence Day in America and, though British, I’m aligning myself with the Patriots.

They were prepared to lose everything to get out of an unholy alliance. If the Crown refused to get the point, the Patriots would have to make it for themselves.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Bicentennial described the outcome thus:

“We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time, and the manner of yielding, what is impossible to keep.

I’m identifying with the Patriots because they set themselves on a course to liberation and independence, as have I. It’s a tough road but I’m strengthened by the fact that, similarly, it was the only reasonable choice to make.

I can see only a few steps ahead. Just when I think the incline might be easing up, I get hit with something I haven’t faced before.

The upside is discovering that all the previous obstacles have made me stronger for all those still coming up.  I can now climb a higher wall, I can now sprint a longer distance, I can now carry a heavier load.  I may not like it, but look – I can do it!

As my sister put it, my divorce has turned my faith into extreme sport. I am leaping vastly, stretching widely and carrying more not to test myself, but because that’s what is right in front of me. Divorce has pushed my faith further and harder than I think it can possibly go.  Yet as I stick to the path, I discover what my faith is really made of.

Divorce has thrown me to depths where I’ve had the opportunity to discover God’s love can still reach me.

It has added to my load until the only means forward has been to kneel down and crawl.

Its waves and squalls have smashed me in the face until I’ve learned that God is my oxygen and my breaths can be timed.  (i.e. do not panic and drink salt water!  It makes you puke. Timing is everything.)

This epic life of faith (so say I) reminds me of the courses set in American Ninja Warrior.  Athletes undertake a seemingly impossible course to test their strength and agility.  (Nothing beats this clip of Kacy Catanzaro from 2014.)

As I watch these Ninjas, I find some helpful parallels for the life of faith:

  1. As a Ninja or a Christian, you’re discovering your commitment. Can you stick it out?  Will you? Your course is laid out before you, only you can choose to do it and only you can persevere to complete it.
  2. For both Ninjas and Christians, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing around you.  Focusing on their race can only delay yours.
  3. The bystanders choosing to watch can either help or hinder.  Be grateful for the helpers and try to ignore those booing and throwing cans of tomatoes at your head.  Shouldn’t they just be getting on with their own race?  Remember they can’t stop you, even though their attempts can hurt.
  4. The Christian’s race as with the Ninja’s is not about time but completion.  Kacy Catanzaro chose not to watch the clock but focus on carefully overcoming each obstacle.  (Smart thinking in both scenarios.)
  5. The goal for both types of competitor is to keep going.  If you fall in the water, climb back up onto the platform.  If a can of tomatoes hits you in the eye, stop!  Nurse the cut, clean up the mess then carry on as you were.
  6. If you’re actually injured, give yourself time to heal.  But then just keep on going.

Paul wrote to Timothy from prison just before he was beheaded on account of his faith:

‘I have fought the good fight,                                                                                                                 I have finished the race,                                                                                                                         I have kept the faith.’

If he could do it with the help of God, so can we don’t you think?  If we focus on what is coming next, and recognize the strength God has already built in us along the way?

We can do this

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Jsg/July 16

 

 

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