Thought to Ponder

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18

We tend to complain that seem to be made to “break down,” like appliances, cars, and furniture, but everything is made to “break down” here on earth, including us. We need time to refresh ourselves because we are in truth frail and easily break down if we’re not careful.

It is good to remember that we do have an unseen home, where we can be completely refreshed, awaiting when we have finished our work here in the world of temporary sight.

Thought to Ponder

I had just gotten back from doing breakfast for Room in the Inn with Janusian Order. It was 6am and I was debating whether or not to change my alarm to 9 instead of 8 when I fell into a half doze and began to dream.

In my dream, I was in a room full of people trying to decorate. They were moving furniture, trying to carpet the floor, put things on the wall, etc. I was trying to get them to stop or leave. When they wouldn’t, I realized I was in a dream and tried to wake up; I couldn’t.

I tried singing praise songs, like “Shout to the Lord,” that proclaim who the Lord is. The workers sang too because I had said, “anyone who works in my house, sings praises to the Lord” before I started to sing. I was actually confused that they sang because in my semiconscious state I thought I was being held captive in a dream state by demons.

Next, I started to ask individual people a couple of questions, “How do you worship God and know that he is the one worthy of your worship?” I started to get muddy and wrong answers. I received answers of pluralism and answers that had twisted views of what the bible said.

I then stated singing “Thy Word” and the people stated to get mad at me. I then tried to force them to leave my home. I stated praying as I tried to herd them out, “Lord, help me to live my life according to your word and not to be persuaded by arguments that are close to the word but wrong. Let me keep your truths close to me.”

The next thing I remember was curling up on the floor and sobbing. I was so sad and all I could do was cry and try to keep saying my prayer. Through blurry eyes, I watched as one of the workmen stated leading some of the people out and letting some stay behind in the room. I realized that while I was arguing with the decorators, this worker had been building my home around me. It was then that I woke up.

It’s not enough to have a firm foundation on the Word. Each support, wall, window, and door needs to be placed according to God’s will and design for your life. Don’t let other people try to decorate your home according to their desires and what they think is the right way; always check what is being said to you against what you know to be true, which is found in God’s Word. If you base your faith on the Word, you will have a strong faith that can stand the test of time. Guard your heart and only let God’s truths enter in.

“Oh, God, you are my God,
And I will ever praise you.
Oh, God, you are my God,
And I will ever praise you.
I will seek you in the morning
And learn to walk in your ways.
And step by step you’ll lead me
And I will follow you all of my days.”

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Addenum: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” – Psalm 127:1

Thought to Ponder

Thought to Ponder (Cont.):

The scripture reference that I remembered was, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48. The sermon on that day was to encourage us to be perfect and blameless before God. Other references were Genesis 6:9, Job 1:1, and I Kings 15:14. All of these references speak about people who were blameless because they walked with the Lord and had a personal relationship with him.

James 3:2 speaks about the perfection of man as being someone who in never at fault in what he says. Now, I don’t know about you, but I need to constantly repent for some of the things I say or think because they are not thoughts or speech that edify and build up. Through that repentance I can reach towards my goal of becoming a Godly woman and become perfect and blameless in the eyes of my Lord.

We should have Christ as our goal of perfection. The definition of “perfection” I use is that it is a process “to bring to full maturity.” Moreover, we can attain that perfection through a personal relationship with Christ by “confess (ing) our sins, and he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:8-9. With Christ as our guide we can reach the perfection of maturity in our faith and can “purify ourselves form every thing that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” II Corinthians 7:1. We should not “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of (our) mind(s)” Romans 12:2, which can be done by keeping Christ as our focus and continuing to be perfected by his life as we discard who we used to be.

God wants the church to be unified through the perfection of maturity, but that is very difficult to attain because everyone is at different levels in their growth. For this reason, “he gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:11-13. When we reach a point when we let God be in control of our lives, he can use us to help to mature the Church to do his works.

Thought to Ponder

No one is perfect; including (and especially) Christians. Even after accepting Christ, people are still tempted to do what is “fun.” Unfortunately, we are not allowed to be people who make mistakes according to the spyglass of the world. According to society, Christians are not permitted to make mistakes because they’re supposed to be “perfect” after they accept Christ. As Christians, we are called to be perfect and a people after God’s own heart. The only way to attain that perfection, however, is through constant communication with our God through prayer, repentance, reading, and listening for what God is saying to us. We can’t get away from the world’s spyglass, so let’s use it to our advantage and show forgiveness, love, patience, and perfection (as David was perfect by being a people after God’s own heart) in our relationship with other Christians and the world.

Thought to Ponder

Today’s Thought to Ponder comes from my attendance at MorningStar last night:

A popular phrase is that “A picture paints a thousand words,” but one word from God spoken through the lips of a man (any man, woman, teen, or child who is connected and listening for God’s voice) can change a life and paint a picture of love and hope into the life of the depressed, desperate, and lonely.

Oklahoma Sky

For Margie

Philippians 4:8 says “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” So here’s some things to think on, if I can do them service:

Each time I come back to Oklahoma, I get a new welcome sign to remind me of
how wonderful it is to live in a place like this. Last summer, I knew I was home when i hit the border just in time for a perfect sunset. The land had just reached that place where it is perfectly flat and there were only a few clouds in the sky. I was hit with this 270º array of bright oranges and reds. It was heaven.

This Christmas, I got to Oklahoma at about 11:30. I missed the sunset I really was hoping to see. What’s more, all the way through Arkansas there was a horrible cloud cover and storms and ice. It wasn’t very pleasant. The sky was completely overcast the entire time.
That night the sunset that I was expecting never came at all. When I hit Oklahoma, though, a miraculous thing happened. The sky suddenly cleared up and, for once, the
wind died down. I was driving I-40, almost to the Muskogee turnpike, about an hour away from home, when I looked up and saw the sky. It was the clearest sky I had ever seen. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The only lights on earth that I could see came from an occasional passing car, and there weren’t many.

For probably the second time in my life I realized exactly why the Greeks called it the Milky Way. That sky was positively infested with stars. You almost couldn’t see the space between them. My favorite constellation, Orion, was just outside my window. I hadn’t realized he was that large. He seemed to take up a full eighth of the sky. And he
was apparently so happy to see me that he was standing on his head. The lighter parts of him, like the club in one hand and the slain animal in the other, I could see with a
clarity I don’t think I ever had before. I almost imagined I could see what animal it was that he had captured. I resolved that, when I reached the turnpike, I would get out and take a few minutes enjoying the view.

About 20 minutes later, I finally passed the turn on to the turnpike. I drove another quarter of a mile, stopped the car, turned the emergency lights on, and stepped outside. I waved at the semi truck and two cars that passed me. They were probably wondering what was wrong with my car that would send me outside in the cold, looking at the
sky. They probably never guessed that it was the sky, and not the car, that drove me out. By this time, the wind had picked up a little bit and was blowing a biting chill, but I barely noticed it. Those stars were too beautiful. What I did notice was that my eyes were watering. I had left my glasses on so I could get the full effect of the view, and normally the glasses would have blocked most of the wind coming at me, the same as my windshield, but I was looking straight up, so the wind was blowing directly into my eyes.
I wish I could say it was the beauty of the moment that was causing me to cry, but it was a chilled wind that blurred my vision and finally forced me back into the safety of the car. But, for that five or ten minutes, what a sight! I suddenly wished that I had studied more astronomy. That star up there that looks out of place, do you think that maybe that’s a planet? No, I was told that planets aren’t supposed to twinkle. Where’s the Big Dipper? Which one is the North Star? Maybe if I just stood here and waited to see which way the stars are moving…

I sat in the quiet of the car for a few minutes while my vision cleared, and then while my now fogged glasses also cleared. The only sound I could hear was the momentary passing of a few cars. It was a beautiful night. Then I started up the car and headed on. Within a mile or two, I began to see the first man made lights again, sitting on top of silos
and far distant radio towers. A few miles more and I began to see the first glow of the city on the horizon. By the time I got to Broken Arrow, the sky had clouded, civilization had taken the landscape, and my moment was gone. But Oklahoma had once again kept her appointment with me at the border. This time she had sent the stars to welcome me home.

The Least of These

I met a man today. It was a spontaneous trip to the Krispy Kreme, and we were sitting in the drive-through, locked in our place. We could see him, working his way down the line of cars, the red jacket bending over as he stopped at each car window. We knew what he was about. We could see it coming. I pointed him out to my friend, and she locked the door. We steeled ourselves for the oncoming conflict. One more and it was our turn.

How do you ignore a man outside your car window, wearing a had and a hood and at least two jackets? How do you sit in line at a donut drive-through and yell through a window that you don’t have any money? The truth is, we didn’t have any money. She had no cash at all, and all I had was the single twenty I was preparing to sacrifice on the altar of a half-dozen box. There was no way I was going to be giving my last bill to a dirty stranger. But the one thing you can’t do is lie. She rolled down the window.

The guy was apologetic, and polite. He kept repeating himself. “I’m sorry, sir. I to be doing this, ma’am. I don’t wanna be no trouble, sir. But it’s cold. It’s cold, so what I’m doing is… what I’m doing is walking down this… It’s cold, so I’m asking people, whatever they can give. I wanna go into a restaurant so I can get warm. I don’t wanna be no trouble or anything. I’m sorry, ma’am.”

There are certain cries the Christian must respond to, if he wants to call himself a Christian. One of those is the cry of the helpless when there is anything he can do to ameliorate the situation. He wasn’t even panhandling for money, really. He didn’t want food so much as he wanted out of the cold. I asked him if he wanted us to get out of the line and go into the donut shop and share our donuts with him so he’d have an excuse to be in the warm.

“No man, I don’t want no donuts. I need real food. I wanna go into a restaurant and get some real food so I can get warm. It’s cold out here!”

“Oh, so, like McDonalds, or Wendy’s up the road here.”

“I’m sorry, sir?”

“A restaurant? Like McDonalds or something?”

“Yeah. McDonalds is good.”

“Well, tell you what: Hop in the car and we’ll go to McDonalds or Wendy’s or something”

“Oh, no sir. I don’t get in nobody’s car that I don’t know. Momma told me never get in nobody’s car that I don’t know. My momma died and now I got nothin. And I can’t trust nobody. I’m sorry to be doing this to you, ma’am. I don’t wanna be no trouble. They just dropped me off here, and so I’m just trying to get some money so I can get warm. It’s cold and I’m…I’ve got three coats on….” He started to unzip and show his layers.

“Ok,” I said, reaching into my wallet. I was convinced. This was no panhandler. This was just a guy who was cold. “All I’ve got is this twenty, and I can’t give you that. When I get through to the other side of this line, though, I’ll give you something.”

“If you’re just trying to get rid of me, that’s okay, I’ll just move on, I mean, I don’t want to be no bother. I’m just…”

“No, we’re not trying to get rid of you,” Valerie said.

“No, I just need to get some change, is all,” I said.

“Ok.” He wandered off, away from the line of cars.

“Do you think he believed us?” Valerie asked.

“I don’t know. I hope he doesn’t just leave.”

“Maybe we should just go in.”

“Do you think I’d be faster?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.” The cars in front of us finally started to move.

“Here we go. I think he did believe us. Or he would have gone on to the next person.” I looked into the back seat. The only article of clothing was a sweatsuit I’d used to sleep in at a friend’s house the night before.

“He doesn’t need any more clothes. He needs a place to stay.”

“Yeah. But he won’t get in the car, so we can’t take him any place.”

“Doesn’t matter. I don’t even know where any shelters are. We can’t let him stay in the dorm: they won’t let us.”

“I know.”

“Did you smell alcohol on his breath?”

“I think so.”

“Doesn’t really matter, though, does it? ABC store is closed.”

“I think the closest one would be a really long walk away anyway.”

“Well. At least he’d get warm. But even if he was going to get drunk…”

“Yeah. At least he’d be warm. I think he’s on the other side over there, by the IHOP”

“IHOP’d be better than McDonalds. Here. When you get the change, give me a the ten and I’ll run up and get him before he gets away.
She gave me the bill and jumped out of the car. But there was no worry. The guy had believed me and was waiting patiently by the IHOP building.

But this is where it gets tragic, and I wish I could remember the words. I gave him the ten and told him it was a ten, but he didn’t go in. More than he was cold and hungry, he needed a friend. He apologized again, and told me how cold it was. He told me about his friends that said he could stay with them, but kicked him out after a few weeks. He talked about his mother dying again. I asked him when she died, and he couldn’t remember exactly. A month ago, maybe, he said. I couldn’t bear to ask if she had had the dignity of a funeral. He told me again, how it was cold and how he had lost his only family. “My momma was all I had” he said at one point. I think that was about where he started to cry. People told him to go the shelter, but the shelter was full. The Salvation Army was full, and they made you fill out all these forms. “I got ID, man” he said, and pulled out his wallet and showed me his license. The man in the picture looked so self assured and secure, hardly the hatted, hooded man that was in front of me. He told me his name. Twice, he told me, but I never quite understood what he said.

When he looked like he was about to go away, and had said everything he was going to say at least once, I decided to take the risk. I offered to pray. I don’t know why I thought it was a risk. People in that position are open to any kind of help they can get. But it was a risk for me. I suppose if I had been better prepared, I could have used the opportunity to share the gospel with him. I didn’t. I couldn’t see how the sorts of things that would lead me to salvation would be very useful to him. What good is prophecy fulfilled and the freedom from the shame of sin and divine purpose of every man, to a guy who can’t think about much more than the fact that he’s lonely and he’s alone and he’s hungry and cold? I guess I could have talked to him about how He’s Jehovah Jireh, the God who is looking out for you. I could have done a spiritual sis-boom-bah about how it was God who sent me to him. But frankly, I would have liked it better if He could have sent somebody who could have actually gotten him a place to stay. I wasn’t even allowed to let him into my own house. So I prayed a simple prayer. I prayed something along the lines of “Father, help!” I prayed for direction for him, to find a place to stay and a way to keep warm and fed. I prayed for food. I prayed for better help than me to come.” When I finished, he said “And protection. I’m from the country. The city scares me. I’m afraid somebody’s going to hurt me.” So I prayed again, for a shield around him, for safety, and for angels on every side to guard and protect him. It was a prayer of faith, because I didn’t feel a single goose bump. It was a prayer of weakness, because being with this man made me feel weak. I was so aware of how little I could do to help.

When I was finished, he said to me, in his repetitive sort of way, that his momma had told him that white people didn’t like him. I tried to say, that although some white people didn’t like him, I had no problem with him. But it came out wrong, and I could tell I was interrupting. He told me that although his momma said that white people didn’t like him, it was the black people, his friends, who had kicked him out of their house, and it was white people who had given him money and given him clothes. I think this is where he said that “Momma was all I had” and really started to cry. Valerie had circled around twice and was parked across the street. I went to her and got some napkins for him to wipe his eyes, and told him that I had to go. “Why you have to go?” he asked. I couldn’t give him a very good answer, except that I had work to do, which really wasn’t very true, since I knew that my chance of getting much work done after this was pretty slim. But as he dried his eyes, he finally turned to go toward the front of the restaurant. There wasn’t anything left for me to do, so I got back into the warm car, and we drove to our warm school dorms, and on the way, we ate our fresh warm donuts. There wasn’t really anything else to do, but to pray and feel bad that there was so little we could do.

Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do also to me,” and there’s a whole host of prophets that talk about the importance of showing mercy and justice to the poor. But when the problems stand up and get right in your face, it’s almost impossible to imagine what you could do that would ever be enough. I know what that man needs. He needs good food and a warm, clean place to stay. For about six months, he needs nothing but stability and compassion and the gospel of Jesus Christ. You could say that would be enough to make him human, but socially speaking, it would make him little help to anybody else. He needs education; he needs to be taught how to behave and how to keep a job, maybe even how to start his own little business somehow. He not only needs the seed put in him, but to have his ground tended, so that when the seed springs forth, it will have somewhere to go. I couldn’t give that to him tonight, but I pray that will lead him somewhere where he will get it.

I suppose there’s a certain kind of Christian who from here would want to launch a juggernaut. He wants to petition the government to create an agency to help people more effectively than they already do; or he wants to launch his own ministry, create another Salvation Army, expand services somewhere. But I’m a bit more conservative than that, and don’t trust large organizations to do my work for me. All I can think about is how someday I want to be rich. I want to have a spare room in my house, completely separate from the rest of the house, with an outside door and everything, so I can invite people like this, that I don’t know, into my house without making the people afraid that I’m responsible for. I want to be in a position where I feel that I really can help somehow.

I met a man today. I couldn’t really help him. But he reminded me, at least, of where my focus needs to be.


The least of these is hungry.
The least of these is sick.
The least of these needs clothing.
The least of these needs drink.
The least of these knows sorrow.
The least of these knows grief.
The least of these has suffered pain,
And Jesus is His name.

~Petra.

Theosophy

If everyone were perfect, no one would be free.

At some point there must be a line between liberty and the injunction to “walk-uprightly.” If everyone exercised their rights to freedom, then no one would walk uprightly. God established this tension in the beginning when he made the two trees. By making the trees of life and of the knowledge of good and evil, he created an option to choose” the most basic freedom. “If you eat of this tree, you will surely die.” “Die” can easily be understood as “not live,” the opposite of the tree of life. Either-or, not both-and. A definite freedom of choice. A the same time, He made clear which is the right choice”Life. To this day everyone acknowledges the basic principles of freedom and righteousness. The debate always falls in the grey of what is right and how much freedom takes precedence over forced righteousness. What is wrong and how much wrong must be punished how severely in this lifetime.

God, we deem, adheres to the highest levels of both righteousness and freedom. Even the slightest smear of sin, according to Paul in his letter to the Romans, will send you into Hell. But at the same time, God himself has rarely interfered with people’s freedoms, or threatened punishment in this life. It is the civil hammer of society that insists that some freedoms are so offensive and disruptive that they must be hindered here on this earth. These are called crimes. The American ideal sets as a crime any expression of natural freedom which directly interferes with those of another. Many religions extend the term to apply to those things which may disrupt the peaceful flow of society, such as certain cultural expressions, or even health and hygiene. Some writers have expressed the idea that at certain times God has used society to curb certain extremes in this life.

In the end, though, the actual line drawing is still given to men. How much may we be free?

September 11

I had planned to get up this morning and write a small apology to say that I wasn’t going to do many new creations this semester, because my private life was screwed, but then I thought better of that phrasing. The best explanation is that my public life has been swallowed up in my academic life. It is very unlikely that I will write anything new this semester, except perhaps in church, because I will be too busy doing homework. Then I was going to post some random poem still left in my cache and go on to that homework.

But then I got up this morning, realized what day it was, and thought that saying nothing in tribute would be impossible, almost sacrilegious.

I’m not a particularly patriotic person, in the sense that I laughed when the army recruiters started calling my senior year in high school. Of course I would die for my country. I’m one of those people who considers his life of very little value. I would die in a heartbeat for any stranger I saw on the street. Unfortunately, I have such little sentiment, that I don’t consider anyone else’s life of particular value either. I hear of travesties that happen around the world, of people starving, of planes crashing, of millions dying every day, and my thoughts are typically, “These are terrible things, and we should do everything in our power to resolve and prevent them. But there’s nothing to get upset about, really. They happen every day.” I’m also not a very sentimental person. It is only with great effort I usually remember special days, like birthdays and Christmas.

I’ve always been vaguely embarrassed about my values in that area, felt like such a tyrant for not caring properly. But it’s difficult for a person, though force of will, to make himself care. I don’t know how to do it. I only know how to act like I care, and I don’t like pretending. So strangely, one of the emotions that I experienced a year ago today was relief. For the two years before this one, I had a voice lesson every Tuesday at exactly 10:00. I came out of my lesson, in a very good humor, joking around with my teacher when we ran into someone in the hall who told us that passenger planes were being used as now. I only barely believed her. But once it was made clear to me that these things were really going on, I was relieved. I was devastated, and I was so glad to know that I was human enough to have so much feeling about something, in my mind, so very far away.

The thing I remember most about that day: It was a perfect day. The sun was shining. The air was a perfect 72. There wasn’t a breath of air moving, and everything was silent. I don’t know exactly where a thousand students, or the hundreds of cars that drive by my school every day, went, but the loudest noise on my whole campus that morning was the quiet chatter of the birds with the squirrels. It seemed so inappropriate, and somehow so appropriate, for everything to be so beautiful on the ugliest day of all. What on earth, really, could be an appropriate response to something like that? In chapel that Thursday, one of our school leaders (a student) declared a week of fasting and prayer for all who were willing. Among private colleges, ours is not a particularly religious school. Beyond the obvious, military responses, which show honor and vigilance, what could possibly display the appropriate depth of emotion?

Perhaps it is again my own lack of true depth of feeling, but it seems to me that all the four-hour fundraising specials could not do enough. There’s a series of services planned in a main thoroughfare at school today. I don’t know that I’ll be able to attend any of them. Yahoo has a site for people who want to make an online memorial. I don’t know that I’ll be able to look at all of them. Somehow it seems to me that the best expression for that day is the sense of irony I felt, that such terrible things could happen on such beautiful days.

Victory and Fame

I know a lot of “famous” people, and I used to think that maybe I wanted to be famous. But now I think not. Because Jesus said that if you’re famous for something, you already have your reward. If I’m famous for my ability to sing or to dance, if I’m famous because people know I’ll do just anything that pops into my head, then my reward is that people everywhere know me for my abilities. If I’m famous for being smart or skillful, then that’s it: I’m smart and skillful and my reward is that I have lots of people standing around just waiting to watch and to help me be smart and skillful.

Here’s what I want to be known for: If you gathered up everyone who really knew me and asked them to tell you one thing about me, I want them all to agree in unison, “There’s one thing I can tell you about Kyle: He loves me.” That’s what I want to be famous for: love. I want people think, even if there’s no one else, Kyle I can always trust. Because, see, if I was famous for that, then I would have all these people standing around just waiting to help me love. It’s what Jesus is famous for. Think about it: yeah, he was perfect and all. Sure, he never did anything wrong. But what’s he really famous for? He died because he just couldn’t live without me. And unless he died he would have been without me. And now look at Him. He has all these people standing around just looking for a chance to help him love. You notice no one’s trying to help Him be perfect.

No one else in history has that kind of record. Even Paul is more famous for his teaching than for his love. I mean, yeah, he had love and all, but that’s not what he’s really remembered for. I’d like to break that record. Let me be the other one who’s famous first for love. I want to be known as a for what love is.

Picture this: Paul said we should run the race in such a way as to win and Hebrews says that we should throw off anything that holds us back in this race. But if that race is this just your life, then the winner is just the one who finishes first. If that was the truth, then we’d have people committing everywhere just to finish the race first! But how many stories have you heard about people who got to look ahead to the judgment and they were rewarded according to one thing: did you learn to love? That’s the race, and that’s the goal. You win the race when you learn to love. And you are rewarded according to how well you run.

Bob Jones had one of those judgment visions, and everyone he saw that didn’t win, it was because they were too much tied up in the things of this life that they were focused on. One man was focused entirely on the bottle he drank from. And in the judgment, he was stuck inside that bottle with his head sticking out. He could barely move! Another one was focused on his gardening. And in the judgment, he was tied by a garden hose to all his hoes and shovels and bags of seed. Poor fellow, he was tied up and held down by all these weights. Another lady, who did win the race, as she entered into her reward she was surrounded by angels ministering to her. Her focus was on love, so the only things she was tied to were people and instruments that helped her to love.

It’s possible to run the race and not even compete. Imagine if you saw a hurdles race and one of the contestants refused to jump the hurdles? He’d probably finish first, but he wouldn’t win the race. He wouldn’t even be considered a competitor, but a distraction, a hazard to the other runners. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will received the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” That crown of life is a reference to the ‘crown of laurel’ given to the winners of the ancient Olympic games. Another view of this verse might say, blessed is he who jumps all the hurdles, because then when he finishes the race he will receive the medal. Jump those hurdles! They were put in your path on purpose. Because, after all, if you don’t go through trials, then you are a , and not a true son (Heb 12:8, KJV). And who, if given a choice, would be a ? Illegitimate children will never enter in (Deut 23:2).

But I want to enter in. And more than anything I want to win. I want to win. I want to throw down every weight, deploy every seed I have instead of merely carrying it. I want to persevere through every trial I encounter and never run around it. I want to be surrounded by that great crowd of witnesses, who cheer me on and push me to my utmost. I want to be tied only to those things which lighten my step, and I want to win that crown of laurel, be it marathon or sprint. In the end, Lord, I do want victory and fame. I want to learn to love.