In HOPE

  In HOPE 6.22                                  back to home                        David Timms

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Hope Happenings

Fall semester commences in two weeks. August 19 marks the University's New Student Orientation and classes begin the following week. It's always energizing to see the activity levels rising and we anticipate a wonderful year ahead, by God's grace.

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

 

"I run ..." (1 Corinthians 9:26)  

_____________________________

A Fun Run

John Bingham is an incurable runner. In a recent Runner's World article he wrote: "In 1997, finishing [the Dallas White Rock Marathon] in 4 hours 35 minutes, we were nearly last. In 2006, finishing in 4:35 puts you right in the middle. For many, races are no longer final exams - they are parties we throw to celebrate the completion of our training."

If we could shift our perspective of the Christian journey in that same way, it might make a significant difference.

Some of us view life as one long exam. Everything is a test - of strength, endurance, intelligence, personality, charm, or ability. We succeed only when we better those around us or better our own last effort. Failure to improve or excel produces disappointment, discouragement or gritty determination for the next attempt.

We apply this philosophy to our business, child-rearing, and our faith. We berate ourselves for every failure to improve, and expect that a string of quiet times will make us higher achievers with God - higher than others and higher than our own personal best at the moment. Everything becomes a test. Have we met the standard for evangelistic fervor, social justice, moral purity, Christ-likeness, spiritual giftedness, etc? Gotta set a new record!

Perhaps our spiritual lives would be better construed as a party than an exam. We "run" - we live life with zest and effort - to celebrate. We pursue God not because we have to or need to, but because we can and we want to. We follow Christ, not because we fear a fateful encounter in eternity which might demand account from us, but because His grace makes every day a fresh start.The final "judgment" will not be a time for condemnation but celebration. The Father loves us so deeply that He will not seek to shame us one last time before we enter our Eternal Rest (see Hebrews 4:9-11).

Runners who must always achieve new personal bests and remain at the top of the field, eventually stop running. Their bodies inevitably turn a corner. Knees fail, muscles weaken, and lungs lose their capacity. Competitive running is no longer possible. But celebratory running is always possible. Chronic "exam-takers" give it up. They can no longer improve. They've lost control. They retreat into disappointment, forsake their conditioning, and relinquish their joy.

Party-people last. They bask in the fresh air, soak up the outdoors, and celebrate that they can move at all. They don't need to outrun anyone. They don't have to better themselves. They take today - and the gift that it is - and simply seize the opportunity to enjoy it.

Our spiritual journeys might be decidely more fruitful and fulfilling if we could shake off the final exam and start to celebrate more. Rather than castigate ourselves for a pound or two of spiritual flab, let's grab our gear (prayers, favorite Scripture verses, a new devotional to read, some Christian music, an icon if it helps) and smile because we can ... and He smiles, too.

Today's another fresh start.

In HOPE -

David

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/