Climbing Your Insurmountable Mountain
The trees are coated with ice and there are many power outages in the area, so if you don't hear from me for a while you'll know why. My house is on the very end of the grid so if we lose power if may take a few days to get back online. Today I'm reading through Galatians and having the time of my life. I've asked my class to memorize the two key verses of this letter and you might want to join us -- Gal. 2:20 and Gal. 5:1. There is a battle to be fought daily, ladies and gentlemen, and there is a victory to be won and won continually. When the pressure's on, we need to simply remember that we are crucified with Christ and I myself no longer live. Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body of mine is a result of daily trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. In addition, Christ has made us free. Let's make sure we stay free and don't get all tied up in the chains of legalism. We can take as our motto the words of Alfred Tennyson's Ulysses: "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." That's one reason I love marathons so much. The first time you run a marathon you think you are "combat ready" but you actually have no idea how terrible the combat will be. You are in store for pain and fatigue the likes of which you've never experienced before. But by enduring the 26.2-mile agony, runners achieve strengths and virtues that make it possible for them to continue their pursuit of excellence in all of life. The mastery is never complete, whether you a runner or a Greek student. You never fully succeed. Each day requires new strength -- the strength of our crucified and risen Savior who loves us and still is willing to give himself for us. I tell my students, "Words are cheap." Anybody can claim to love Greek. Aspirations cost nothing. Words must be clothed in actions. When I ran the Allen (Texas) Marathon a couple of years ago, the event was held on New Year's Day. The high temp that day was literally 1 degree Fahrenheit. Out of hundreds of runners who registered for the race, only 44 finished. I was number 43. The entire race I felt like Sisyphus, forever pushing the stone but never arriving at the goal.
Implicit in running is the climbing of seemingly insurmountable mountains. Each of us must have a mountain if we are to truly live, even if it looks to some like a molehill. Every goal must be meaningful. Otherwise it makes no sense to pursue it. Our lives must contain mountains or marathons or something out-of-the-ordinary to provide inspiration. You need something you think yourself to be incapable of. You'd be surprised, my friends, how many such challenges are out there waiting for you. I still can't believe we had 50 people taking my Greek class in a local church a year ago before Covid hit. All that matters is doing whatever it takes to achieve one's personal best. Don't believe for a minute that God is trying to make your life easier. Doing one's absolute best becomes the criterion of success. Running in races has made this whole matter plain to me. The battle becomes me against me, a contest with the part of me that wants to stop. Winning is being able to say, "I didn't quit. When I fell down, I got right back up again." When I finish a race, I often stop and look back to watch the other runners as they cross the finish line. Some of them are in great shape. Others are near exhaustion. But none has done less than their very best.
So that's my goal for this week, this semester, this year. In the movie Chariots of Fire, the head of Caius College in Cambridge tells the incoming students, "Let each of you discover where your chance for greatness lies. Seize that chance, and let no power on earth deter you." Dear friend, my hope in writing this daily blog is to inspire you to be all that Christ wants you to be. "This one thing I do," wrote the apostle Paul, not "these 50 things I dabble in." That has not changed, nor have we, since the time of the apostles.
February 13, 2021
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.