Below is an email I received from a Christian sister from across the country. I thought it was very encouraging. Who hasn’t squandered their time and not prepared for the upcoming trials? Or who hasn’t had another ask for help during a trial and found that since the last trial they haven’t been in God’s Word or had been slack in church attendance?
Those running the race must work hard before each trial. We cannot show up at the “Olympic” Trials without having spent serious time in preparation.
1 Cor 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ESV
2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ESV
To all my dear sisters in the Lord:
Something has been long on my mind and moreso recently. It is my hope that you will be edified by what I have to say and that it encourages all of us to seek first the kingdom.
I thoroughly enjoy it whenever I hear from any one of you – I really do. But, I’ve noticed that oftentimes those moments only come when there is stress and turmoil in your lives or there is some need for prayer. Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying…I do want to know how I might pray for each and every one of you and I would not want you to take this as me saying, ‘you only contact me when you need something’. It really isn’t the point of me writing. We are to bear one another’s burdens and to pray for the brethren.
However, what I want to touch upon is this…how are we spending our time in the interlude of the trials? Are we daily seeking God in prayer and in the Word? Are we under sound teaching that exhorts us to run the race with endurance? Are we having true Christian fellowship with other sisters and talking about the things of God? Are we daily mortifying sin in our lives? Are we willing to lose sleep if necessary to have moments with God?
I know many of us are busy either in the home with children and spouses or outside of the home in the workplace. Our time is filled with duties and responsibilities – on that, we can all agree. But, how often do we truly take advantage of the windows of time I know we are all afforded? Do we sit at the computer involving ourselves in things that do not profit the soul? Do we sit in front of the tv? Do we attend to things for our good (and temporal) pleasure? I know that most of us can admit to squandering away precious time doing nothing that profits us spiritually. There are times when I could have chosen not to sit at the computer so long or taken in the nightly news and used that time wisely to invest in knowing the God of scripture, building myself up in the faith, praying for the saints or encouraging someone else.
The reason I ask these things is because I want us to think about how we are spending our time. How will we stand in the day of trial (and they come often), when we neglect so great a salvation and our spiritual well-being? The time to prepare for battle and trials is not in the midst of them. We will have nothing with which we can fight. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh and yet, I find that oftentimes, those who have begun to grow weary, become overwhelmed, cold in their affections toward Christ and despairing have been neglecting the Word and prayer. I can say this because I have been guilty as well. I also do not propose we will do it perfectly all the time, every time, but how much better would we fair if we had given our affections to Christ?
We will have difficulties, trials and suffering in this life, but we are assured that God will not give us more than we can bear. We can still bear the fruit of joy even though the tempest rages around us. Let us always be looking to God and crying out to him in our distress, despair and afflictions know that He will never leave us or forsake us and that He cares for us.
Often, trials come by the hand of God in order to prune us, to test us and humble us to know what is in our heart and whether we would keep His commandments (Deut 8:2). When we neglect the things of God and attend to our own ways, He will let us eat the fruit of them until we repent. We can be sure that a child of God will be disciplined because He loves us as a Father – and He is not a derelict Father.
This is not to say that all trials are for discipline, but we cannot afford to become lax in our daily seeking the things of God – seeking what is pleasing to Him, seeking to know Him intimately, resting in His strength and not our own, and trusting Him in all things knowing that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). We need to seek Him daily as our daily bread for our very lives depend upon it. We must daily renew our minds and present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice WHICH is our spiritual service of worship (Rom 12:1-2).
We should consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds (not necessarily works that others see although it may involve this) and encouraging one another (Heb 10:24).
‘Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ IF we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end…’ (Heb 3:12-14)
None of us does this perfectly, but it should be our heart’s desire to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to quickly run back to our first love when we fail. We need godly women that we can share our struggles with and ones who will always turn us back to the Lord and the cross.
I often feel lacking in what to say to comfort someone else. I want to be careful in what I say so that it is not my words and my attempts to simply make someone feel better. I do not like to see anyone suffer – especially a believer. But, I also know that the ONLY thing I truly have to offer you (or anyone) is Christ and the truth that has been revealed to us in scripture. I will always strive to point you back to Him for I know that He is much more acquainted with your situation and weaknesses. He alone can speak truth into your heart and give you peace and comfort.
I do not say these things from a lofty position because I know that I also must believe and accept what I say to be true. I need this as much as any of you so that I might stand in the day of trouble and to know in Whom I have believed and placed my faith. I need to live rightly before my God and to be mortifying sin in my life. I pray the Lord would help me in my own weaknesses.
I do not pretend to know how any of you spend your days, but I know that I often squander precious time that could have been spent in building myself up on my most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping myself in the love of God, and waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life (Jude 1:20). I want to know the One whom I will spend eternity with. If we want no part of Him in this age, we will have no part with Him in the next.
I do not want any of you to stop asking me for prayer or to feel that I want more of your time or friendship. Let us find ways to encourage one another in our faith and holy living. Simply, I want to encourage us all to be daily standing at the gates to apply ourselves to God’s wisdom and seeking and to ‘lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which SO EASILY entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…’ (Heb 12:1-2). He is worthy of our time and devotion – the One who purchased us with His own blood and saved us through no merit of our own. Let us not neglect so great a salvation!
In Christ with the utmost love and affection ~ Melissa