Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Revive Thy Work O Lord"1 (Lyrics)
Some memories of summer camp days linger — long, warm days at what was then known as Gracefield Presbyterian Centre, near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. As camp counselors, we always planned games for our young campers. One was a group race, where the first runner runs to the halfway mark and back, grasps the hands of two other runners, who run to the post and back, and so on. My friend, Tom, bravely volunteered to be the first runner for our team, tearing off to the post and back, reaching out for two children to run with him. By the fifteenth lap to the post, joined by a laughing, gasping group of runners, Tom, who had run so quickly at first, was staggering on the last lap and nearly had to be dragged across the finish line, to great laughter and applause. I always smile at the memory of Tom and the group race!
By now, we know that it's not enough to make a great beginning! As a nation, Israel made such a great start, crossing the Red Sea to safety, celebrating with Miriam, Moses' sister, and her musicians, and heading off to the Promised Land. Too soon did unbelief halt the progress, and led to forty years of wandering in the wilderness.
Hebrews 3:16-19 – For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews spoke of entering rest, and the key to get in is belief. Maybe, we think that obedience to a set of rules is the way to enter rest, but in truth, the disobedience that we read of grew out of unbelief. Israel was delayed in crossing the finish line by not persevering in faith, even after seeing so many miracles and evidence of God's provision. A cloud of smoke by day, a pillar of fire by night, fresh manna to gather each morning, water bursting from a stony outcrop, healing of snake bites with a bronze staff: so much evidence of God's presence and care, and yet discontentment and feelings of futility slowed the race.
As we grow older, in body and in the faith, will our close and intimate relationship with the Lord grow faint and sporadic? It's not how we start the race that is so important, but rather, the years of trust and reliance that we persevere in to continue the race and bring us to His rest, the great finish line. Sing along with the Freedom Church: "So faith, keep me fighting, and love, keep me running, running the beautiful race, the beautiful race. I want to keep running up to heaven's door. So, help me keep running up to heaven's door."
Prayer: Lord, enable us to pray like the apostle Paul did, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day." (2 Timothy 4:7-8a NKJV) We ask for Your grace and courage not to stagger or to give up in our faith journey to heaven's door. Amen.
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Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.
I appreciated your link to Freedom Church!
Thank you, Shirley, for today’s devotion.
It is a great lesson of our race to heavens’ door.
Thank you, Shirley, for this encouragement. I often wonder at the Israelites’ behavior, yet realize I probably would have done the same. I’ve seen the land they traveled through, and it is harsh.
You are SUCH an encouragement on this particularly difficult day, Shirley. I’m certain that your clear message will bless every single person who reads or hears it today, as much as it does me. Grateful for this share of your understanding and faith today!
A beautiful and very encouraging devotional you have written today. Yes, it is important that our faith remains strong even though as we age our bodies become weaker. A great day to look forward to when our loving Saviour receives us in His heavenly home. Blessings for these very meaningful writings that you submit.
Thank you for your Devotional today which gave me encouragement to continue running the race. I am struggling with some health issues, and I am not patient. I needed to be able to see the miracles that God is providing for me in the midst of the journey which you helped me to see.
Blessings on you and your writing.
What a great “reset” button as the school year resumes with many unknowns, and our lives are impacted by multiple stresses and disasters.
Thank you, Shirley, for your encouragement to keep fighting and running. I’ll start with one minute and, filled with Hope, see how my Faith will build up to a whole day at a time!
Bless you for this timely message.
Thanks for today’s encouraging and meaningful Devotional. I, too, have memories of Gracefield. Our children went there in the summers. My husband and I led a weekend church camp for teens there. Our church has a regular weekend retreat open to all church members each fall. What lovely memories! Thank you again.
Blessings, Joy, Laughter.
Good morning, Shirley,
I love your story about Tom and the Group race. I have never heard of that type of race, but it sounds so inclusive. Memories of good time are so special and when you can relate them to your faith and share with others, it encourages us all. It is so true that sometimes we forget that it is our faith in Jesus which will get us to His rest. It is the relationship we build with God on our journey that will sustain our faith and trust no matter what occurs. For me, as I get older it is easier to keep my faith because I have so many times when I relied on God, and he was there for me. Life definitely is not perfect, and I definitely don’t get all I wish for, but God is there is so many small ways that I feel Him. The Holy Spirit is always reminding me of how I see God’s hand in the lives of the people around me when they need a little encouragement.
Thank you for always sharing in such a personal way and may you continue to believe and be supported by God.