"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Friday, July 29, 2011

Seriously! Another Curve Ball?

Wow! It's been awhile since my last entry.  Life definitely has it's way of catching up with me.  It's July already, and summer is in full swing.  Bethany has graduated from high school, had her graduation party, registered for fall classes as a Freshman at the University of Toledo College of Engineering, Majoring in Bio-Engineering; Joy finished her Freshman year at UT, has moved back home (yaay!), and plans to remain here. She's working two jobs, plus pet sitting and walking a dog weekly.  Jonathan is officially a Sophomore at Cardinal Stritch, has his temporary license (look out!), and is steadily working, earning money and cannot be seen without his soccer ball.  Koda is officially house broken (Praise God!), has calmed down a lot, and is a joy to be around; Domino hasn't changed a bit and is almost always perfect.  Joy's rat, Minion, passed away, and her other rat, Picasso, has been very sad.  He's still hilarious though, and has a wonderful personality. 

Joy's boyfriend, Rob's, puppy, Rosie, has been living with us. She's a tiny corgie, and is a joy to be around.  Rosie and Koda love each other and constantly play like toddlers together.  It's adorable.  Up until recently, Rosie thought Koda was a sheep (he's totally white and built kind of like a lamb), and she was constantly trying to herd him; she would chase him and then lie low, and then growl when he came back by her.  After a few weeks, she figured it out that he was a puppy, just like she is, and now they adore each other.  For being so very small, (9 pounds compared to Koda's 70+ pounds), she definitely can 'hold her own' and even leaves Koda dumbfounded at times.

 Do you ever get that feeling that life is sort of passing you by?  I sometimes do, but then I remember that life is really all about finding joy in the daily moments.  Those 'track meet' moments, 'soccer and band’ moments; the 'college preparation' moments, and yes, even those 'puppy training’moments.  I mean, isnt that really where the rubber actually meets the road?  At home, in our daily lives, in our day to day existence?

As I am living my life, I am constantly reminding myself to live purposefully and intentionally; to make every moment of every day count.  Count for something positive and intentional.  This sometimes requires thought and preparation.  Just as if preparing to compete.  Isn't that what life is all about anyway?  Competition.  We are competing to win the prize of the upward goal of Christ.  To win against the spiritual darkness of this world and conquer Jesus in this world.  I definitely need to become more skilled at all of this.

For the past few months, I had been training for a triathlon.  Am I a triathlete?  Heavens no! Not by any stretch of anyone's imagination.  But I still diligently trained.  I took swim lessons at the UT Recreation Center, and I worked out daily for about 90 minutes.  I worked out until I couldn't work out any more.  I gained a lot of muscle in the process, and became really heart healthy.  As Paul encourages us to become evangelists of the gospel, we may not think we are evangelists.  But that doesn't mean we cant train ourselves to become ones.  It should be one of our goals, just as becoming a triathlete was one of mine.  Was it easy?  Nope.  Was it worth it?  You bet it was.

Well, last month, I proved my goal to be true.  I competed in the triathlon at Maumee Bay State Park, and I was a success.  My goal was to complete it, not necessarily to compete in it.  However, by the Grace of God, I accomplished both.  It was very exciting to think of how my life has changed over the past year.  This triathlon was sort of like a culmination of change.  Out with the old and in with the new.  As the song from Mercy Me says, "So long, self. Well, it's been fine, but I have found somebody new...."

I have learned that as I age, I get slower; my body just doesn't function the way it used to.  I used to love, love, love running.  Not so much anymore.  OK. So, I've never really enjoyed swimming, but I did it.  I took swim lessons and actually swam Lake Erie.  Whew!  I had to train harder, more purposefully.  Not just because I was planning on competing in a triathalon, but because my body is nearly 50 years old.  I needed to hone and attempt to perfect my skills.  Just as in evangelism. I may never be a masters triathlete, but I can become a masters evangelist.

Just as I am training differently for the triathlon because I am aging, I may train differently for the role of evangelist than a young, up and comer.  I not only use my strength and endurance, but I also use my wisdom.  Yaay!  I finally get to put my wisdom to a test.  A youthful, vibrant attitude can carry someone a very long way, but when push comes to shove, wisdom and training will carry someone through. 

Just as I would love to master the sports of running, swimming and biking, I would love to master the life of evangelism.  Its just not that easy. Because, just like my aptitude for sports, I am not a natural born evangelist.  I live my life as a living testimonial, and I would love for that to be enough. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Many good people live their lives as living testimonials of  'doing good', and such, however, there will be many, many good people that may be denied entry into heaven because they lacked the saving grace of Jesus; quite possibly, because I didn't do my part to evangelize them into the heavenly arms of Jesus; I may have neglected to show them the mercy, compassion, hope and grace that He offered each of them.

Now, how to do all of that in my daily life.  Therein the challenge lies.  Ha.  Just when I thought I was living my life both purposefully and intentionally, the Lord throws me a curve ball.  I need to purposefully and intentionally evangelize, too?  Yikes!  "But, Lord, I just prefer to quietly live a life of testimony; one where people will see me and know You through me."  OK.  Now, that I've actually put that thought into print, it really doesn't look too good to me.  Just how will people come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ, if all I am doing is living victoriously and not necessarily 'speaking' words of Truth to them?  Most likely, they won't. 

Since I competed in the triathlon, I haven't been able to do much of anything physical.  I wrenched my rotator cuff, and my arm has been in a sling.  So, although I haven't been physically able to train my body, I have had some extra time (at least 90 minutes a day extra) to train spiritually.  I've been fervantly praying Acts 4:29, "Enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness."  I'll admit it. Sometimes, it's just not that easy.  I mean, I really don't enjoy verbally evangelizing with someone who may be skeptical, and sometimes, downright mean to me.  But ya know what?  I have to.  Why?  Because Jesus told me to.  He didn't ask me to.  He didn't suggest I do it.  Nope.  He said in Matthew for me to 'go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."  I don't really think this can be totally accomplished by just living my life for the Lord and hoping that others notice.

As this summer is quickly moving along, I will continue to pray Acts 4:29,  not only for myself, but for my children, too.  Because let's face it, we can all use all the help we can get.  May each and every one of us continue to run this race of life with Gods utmost help, assurance, encouragement and love.

Casting Crowns, "Prayer for a Friend"

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