By Chaplain (Capt.) Bob Davis (1-507th PIR)September 21, 2018
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 17, 2018) -- In this week's "Chaplains' Corner," Chaplain (Capt.) Bob Davis, 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, relates his Christian life to his love for long-distance running.
There is a popular country song that says, "I believe days go slow and years go fast" [EDITOR'S NOTE: David Frasier, Ed Hill and Josh Kear's "Most People are Good," popularized by country artist Luke Bryan]. I must have missed the slow days!
September is already upon us, and a whirlwind of activities loom in the days ahead. School is in, work is still demanding, and there are a hundred responsibilities pulling us in what feels like every direction. In short, life is busy with no signs of slowing.
So with that idea of "busy-ness" in mind, I want to share with you some thoughts from the book of Hebrews: "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
I am a runner, and I love to run. A couple of years ago I was training for a marathon. As race day neared I set out for a 20-mile run. Now you must realize that it has taken time and perseverance to build up to that kind of distance. I was trained and ready, but as I stepped off that afternoon I had no clue of how poorly prepared I really was.
It was one of those weird 80-degree days in February that seemed to be the perfect conditions for my training. I had a fuel belt on with a few 8-ounce bottles of water and electrolytes. Things were going as planned until I realized that I was out of water by Mile 10. I pressed on -- a bit concerned but determined -- and it was somewhere around Mile 16 I began to feel the effects of the sun and dehydration. It wasn't long before I realized I was in trouble. By Mile 19 my legs were cramping so badly that walking was a challenge. I was disappointed because I knew that I should have been able to make it! You have got to realize it wasn't a matter of trying harder; I could no longer run because of the effects of dehydration. The effects of the sun, the heat and the lack of water together they had an effect that just about stopped me dead in my tracks. No amount of grit and determination could have changed the reality of my condition in that moment.
In a similar way, our spiritual "race" is directly impacted by our levels of 'hydration." In 1 Peter 2:12 we are told that without Christ we are "waterless springs." Well, folks, just like a runner without water can't run, without Christ we can have no hope of running this spiritual race well. Jesus speaks of thirst and his living water that quenches our parched souls and renews our very existence from within! Isaiah beckons us, "Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!"
I know what it is to have many demands jockeying for priority in one's life. I know how easy it is to set aside important things because the urgent is constantly pressing us.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: If you are going to run a marathon, you cannot underestimate the need for water. Without it the body cannot be pushed, and the goal will not be reached. How much more so is this true in relationship to our spiritual lives? If we think we can run the race without replenishing the water of our souls from the One who is the source of this living water, we are mistaken. Settling for a dry and depleted heart as we cramp up spiritually is falling short of the goal! Don't wait until Mile 16 to suddenly realize you are out of 'water,' because life is a marathon folks! We need Him every hour.
I am challenged by the idea that Jesus endured the shame and agony of the cross as "a joy set before him," while I am derailed by things far less substantive. When my spiritual tank is full, I find that I can love my wife and children as I truly desire. With a full heart, I can face the challenges of work and life with a hopefulness that eludes me when I am tired and empty!
How can we truly care for people with a heart that is dry, tired and anything but flowing with living water? How can we see the challenges and opportunities of life as "a joy set before us" in this condition? This isn't a scolding; this is a call for self-care; this is a call to throw off all the stuff that hinders and to once again fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
It is about to be a busy fall season. Take a moment today, this week or often to check your fluid levels and ask Him to fill you with His Living Water full to overflowing once again!
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