Exercising My Faith
Today I am remembering a friend and wanted to share this post again. Oh Lord, let me be found faithful.
Tom and I recently received an Elliptical machine from a friend. She was moving and didn’t have room to take it with her. Tom decided we could use it and brought it home. About a month ago, I put on my gym shorts and a t-shirt and laced up my tennis shoes. I had not exercised in a long time, so I pulled my hair into a ponytail and got ready to sweat. As I stepped onto the elliptical machine – I saw a black sweat band hanging on the front of it. My heart broke and as I placed my feet onto the foot pads and began to walk – I began to sob. I began to question – “Am I exercising my faith?”
You see…a few years ago, Tom and I joined a small group through our church. The night of our first meeting, we were nervous as we walked up the driveway to the Stracener’s house. But, that gathering of 7 couples quickly transformed into weekly Bible Studies of 14 dear friends. We came to love our fierce leader and each other. He was really something else. I loved to sit and listen to Him share about Jesus and talk about God’s word. I loved to hear Him pray. He was truly a man of God and he was more than passionate about his Savior. The year and a half that he was our life group leader was truly transforming for me. I think it was kind of like a perfect storm in my life. There was my new church, my life group and a faint whisper in my ear that God was calling me to more. Tim Stracener was instrumental in pouring fuel on the fire that was stirring in my heart.
As I pushed my feet to turn the flywheel on the elliptical machine and tears ran down my face. I was overwhelmed by Tim’s faithfulness. He and Marsha had travelled a hard road. They experienced difficulties they never imagined. They clung to each other. They clung to their Savior. They shared their experiences, trials and wisdom with others. They lived out their faith. And their journey brought them into our lives. I could list at least twelve friends who are very thankful for that. As I walked (or whatever it is you do on an elliptical machine) I began to pray, “Lord, please help me to walk in faith the way that Tim did. Please help me to exercise my faith. I don’t merely want to have faith in You – I want to live out my faith. Help me to walk in the faith described in 2 Peter 1:5.” It says…
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
As I walked and thought about exercising my faith, I realized I was holding steadfast to the handle of the elliptical. It was keeping me steady as my vision blurred by my tears. As I held tight, I thought about how Tim held tight to God’s word. He claimed God’s promises. He held tight to God and sought His wisdom. He wanted to be obedient and act when the Holy Spirit prompted. Oh, how I want to be like that. We hold tight to so many things – relationships, possessions and our self-centered feelings. If only we could just let go of those things - let them fall into God’s hands as we hold tight, hold fast only to Him. He will take care of the rest. In Hebrews 10:22-23 we are instructed to draw near to God and to hold fast our confident expectation of our future. We are to apply God’s word in our lives – to grow – to become more and more like Him. You see, if we do our part – we can be assured that God will fulfill His part. Here is the scripture:
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. “
Well, by now, I was a mess! I was crying and sweating. It was not pretty. I was tired, out of shape, and weak. I wanted to quit. I wanted to step off the elliptical and go eat a potato chip. I wanted getting in shape to be easy. I wanted to just wish it and make it so. But that simply wasn’t going to happen. Any goal requires commitment. It takes work, effort and perseverance. Just like getting in shape was going to take time, so does our Christian growth. As I pressed forward to keep going – I thought about how Tim never gave up – but just kept walking the walk – pursuing the prize. We, as believers, will have to endure trials and times of weakness. But it is our perseverance that demonstrates our love for our Lord. Our relationship with Him is worth whatever we have to endure. As my thighs burned, I realized that just like if I stayed on the elliptical I would reach my fitness goals – Tim stayed the course seeking God every step of the way and received His prize – his goal. James 1:12 says…
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Whew! Finally the timer sounded. I had made it. I did it. I stepped off the elliptical, raised my hands in victory, and thought, “Yes! I did it!” As I stood, hands held high, again I thought of Tim. Have you figured out by now that our friend Tim was a passionate man? Well, he was. He didn’t just love the Lord, he LOVED THE LORD!!!! He didn’t just raise his hand in praise; no…he raised both hands high as if he just couldn’t praise Him enough. As I celebrated my tiny accomplishment I realized - Tim did it!!! He stayed the course. He lived out his faith. He endured the trials. He persevered. He never wavered. He never gave up. He ran his race. He has received his prize. This month as we remembered Tim on his birthday and now prepare for the anniversary of his death…or maybe I should say…his grand entrance into Heaven – I am so thankful. I am thankful for his influence, his encouragement and the impact he had on my relationship with Christ. There is no doubt that as he entered the gates of heaven he heard the words of Matthew 25:23:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of our Lord.”
Join us in prayer today for Tim’s sweet wife and our precious friend, Marsha. It is a hard month for her and their children. While Tim is no longer here with us – his legacy and influence lives on through them and all who knew him.
(This is my blog post after we lost Tim.) http://masterwhatmatters.org/2013/07/#sthash.jL59LmcS.dpbs
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