Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Second Wind

      I stumbled across this article, written last summer, that I guess I just never hit the "publish" button on! As I find myself encouraged (by myself! ha,ha) to press on through this exhaustion, I believe I understand God's timing in even this. Be blessed.

A Second Wind

     On my kitchen counter there currently lies a mess of little rainbow square papers, glue, scissors, and construction paper. In the midst of this minor chaos is a beautiful half-completed paper mosaic of a butterfly. 

       My eldest, now seven, had entered the collage category for the upcoming Saanich Fair, and was feverishly attempting to complete his entry in time...that is, until his motivation began to wane. He began with great gusto and immense attention to detail, very excited and hyper-focused. He stayed up until 10pm the first night, only retiring at our insistence. He was back at it the next morning and made incredible progress in a short time. The following day, however, his thrilling project began to seem perhaps, well, too ambitious, and he had to be reminded to press on several times throughout the day. As I prepared dinner and he sat before his art distracted and unfocused, he finally voiced his concern to me that he might not be able to finish it.
       Stirring in the vegetables, I paused a moment to think how I should answer. Should I press him and insist he complete what he began, for principle's sake, or should I let him quit and relieve the unnecessary pressure? God apparently saw this, rather, as a moment to teach us both a little something about His grace.

      The analogy of a race came into my mind, and I asked him, "Does a runner at the start of a race feel full of energy or tired?" Well, full of energy, of course! "Is he excited and hopeful about winning or is he ready to give up, certain he'll lose?" Well, he's probably excited and hopeful, or else why would he even run? "Okay, when you began this art project how did you feel about it?" Like the runner; really excited.  
      "Right. Well, do you know what happens after the runner has been running a long time, perhaps hours or even days? He gets tired. REALLY tired. So tired, he doesn't know if he can make it to the finish line. He might even get discouraged and feel like quitting. But this is the most important part of the race, because it is what makes a runner a winner. If he presses through, and keeps going, something wonderful happens." 
       What? "He gets what people call 'a second wind'. That means he gets a burst of energy, just when he is about ready to drop, that allows him not only to finish the race, but finish it well. If you press through this hard part in your project, I think you might get a second wind too."

      While he chewed on that, I continued to think. This concept of a "second wind", I realized, applied to the Christian walk as well. Many start out their new life in Christ full of joy and excitement, sharing the good news with all around them. They love everything about church and truly enjoy being around other Christians. They are full of life, full of love, and full of hope. Then trials, responsibilities, ambitions, and other passions all crowd in, and the zeal of the early days begins to fade. Dating and friends, then spouses, work, children, hobbies, and houses fill every moment of every day. 
       Ten years, then twenty, then thirty pass by in a blink, and all of the sudden, in a quiet moment, they realize that the vital, spiritual life they once had is gone. It has been suppressed all these years by the worries and cares of this life. Then, suddenly stirred from complacency and distractions, a fresh breath of life seemingly fills them and they begin to run the race once more. Spiritually, they get a second wind and they run the rest of the way to the finish line. I personally have seen this wonderful renewal happen over and over again in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. A second wind.

        Recognizing a teachable moment (hurray!), I shared my contemplations with my attentive little artist, who grasped the spiritual parallel, much to my delight. "Do you want to know what that spiritual 'second wind' is called?", I asked. Yes, he replied. "Grace! Grace is the spiritual energy to run the race of faith. Without God's empowering, energizing grace, we have no resources to be able to live out the life of Christ. When we get discouraged, we need grace, much like an athlete must have an energy source to keep going. Does that make sense?" He nodded affirmatively, and with that thought to meditate on, we both worked in silence together for a good while, him cutting and gluing, and myself stir-frying. 

     Grace. A spiritual "energy source". I was reminded of the acronym for grace: God's Riches At Christ's Expense. Incredible. We truly do have "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3) Grace is the means by which we have access to all the spiritual wealth we have inherited in our adoption as children of God. He has given us every resource we need to run and finish the race, no matter where we are at in it. 
       If we find ourselves in the middle of the course with a distance yet to go, (but still a good bit behind us), we can take heart, for His mercies are new every morning... great is His faithfulness! A second wind is a close as our next prayer.   If you are nearing the finish, but unsure if you will make it, hold on! When we are too weak to walk, He will give us His strength! Let His grace energize your tired soul. And if you have just begun? Rejoice! For you have a life full to the brim of His goodness ahead, and by His grace you will continue on strong until you reach the finish line! Wherever today finds you, remember, Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for me, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Thus, we can say with Paul, "When I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 12:9,10)

      The craft remains on the counter, a steady work in progress, much like myself. Spiritual growth can be a messy activity at times, and the finish line far away, but through the grace of God, we can take each day as He gives it to us, and live it for His glory, in His strength.

       postscript: The project was finished, entered into the Fair, and received a ribbon. It is now framed and hangs on the wall in our school room as a reminder to press on towards the goal for the prize "of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Even so, Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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