Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
It’s not only athletes and boxers who need to practise. As a child I learnt the piano – and making me practise each day must have been the bane of my parents’ lives! And mine. When I retired, I thought I’d take up the saxophone – a long held aspiration. However, I’d forgotten that after the first year or so of quick returns, it got harder and I would need to put in more effort and hours if I was to improve at all. It is the same with fell-walking. I loved to get out into the hills, but often it was too arduous and often painful and my misery and mood could spoil the day. However, with perseverance, determination and a change of attitude my fitness and everyone’s enjoyment improved! There are no shortcuts to improving at anything we may want to do and sometimes it may seem particularly difficult and uncomfortable. It takes time, effort and self-discipline and the same is true if I want to become more Christ-like. It challenges me to realise that if I want to become as prayerful, compassionate, just, forgiving and unselfish as Jesus, then I need to train myself and practise. When it gets more difficult, I need to give time to exercise more self-control and willpower. It’s a real challenge but the prize is worth it.
What is your challenge?
Patient and loving God, be with us as we just give up when the going gets tough…. be with us as we struggle with lack of confidence and self-discipline…. be with us as we find challenge and change difficult and uncomfortable…. be with us as we seek to be more and more like Jesus…. Amen
The Rev’d Lis Mullen is a retired minister and member of Kendal URC
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