Summer cross country practice has started and I’ve been pleased to be averaging 8 brave middle schoolers coming to run in the heat.
One of the things I love about middle school cross country is that this is often the first sport some of the students have ever tried. Some are natural athletes and take off with an easy stride, but others struggle. I certainly can relate more to the strugglers, since I was never an athlete, so I try to work with them to learn how to breathe and stay loose in their upper bodies, how to run up and down hills, and how to pace themselves. Like any sport, a first time runner is not going to get all this right immediately. It takes working on one thing at a time, with patience and perseverance.
God deals with me in the same way.
I have been a Christian all my life and I would think that by now I would know how to do it, would know not to let myself get uptight over little things, would know when to keep my mouth shut and would be sensitive to those around me, but I keep getting it wrong. Or maybe I’m just more aware of my shortcomings than when I was younger.
I recently heard Joyce Meyer on her radio program preaching on the Holy Spirit in our lives. She was in John 16, when Jesus is telling the disciples that He is going to leave and that they are not going to understand what is happening. But He assures them that if He goes, the Comforter will come, the One who will live in them, not be in front of them like Jesus has been.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. ” John 16:12-13
The Holy Spirit is there to guide us in all truth. Joyce interprets this to mean that the Holy Spirit guides us in knowing the truth about ourselves, but only as we are ready for it. Just as I attempt to correct one part of a young runner’s form, God, through the Holy Spirit, is slowly working to perfect me, to show me areas where I need to grow. He doesn’t throw it all at me at one time – “Here, get it right!” – but instead, if I let Him, lovingly shows me my weaknesses, but only as I am ready to take it in. And it’s usually not pretty!
Implicit in this is that we are each on a different place on the path. God may have revealed something to me that He has not revealed to you, and vice verse. I see this in many of the areas Christians have struggled with over the years. My parents talked about how they had to consciously change their attitudes about black people after they became adults, and it was not something that happened overnight. My own Southern Baptists split 25 years ago over whether women should be ministers, which felt like a divorce in the family. Right now many churches are struggling with their attitudes and policies regarding the LGBT community. Emotions run high over how to interpret what God is saying.
If any good can come from the horrific shootings in Orlando, hopefully people are looking with compassion on the victims and their families, and hearts are being moved.
Meanwhile, the best we can do is to pray for one another and ourselves, that each of us will be open to the truths the Holy Spirit is trying to show us, even if that means seeing ourselves in an ugly light and admitting our shortcomings. Any change has to start in each of our own hearts.
I’m just thankful I don’t have to go on the path alone, but that I have the Holy Spirit as my Guide!