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.