My wife Carol & I went for a walk this morning. Due to our work schedules we had a limited amount of time. So, we pushed it a bit and power walked. We made good time, had a nice chat, enjoyed one another’s company and returned home… winded; out of breath! Wow! What’s that all about? We’re not that far out of shape; are we?! I still lift weights and Carol goes to the gym as well. Still, the challenge of power walking presents new challenges in taxing the limits of the body’s resources.
This got me thinking….How many times have I ended up spiritually winded, out of breath? What a shameful thought! Why? Because it is an indication that I have tried to run the race in my own strength. “Spirit” literally means “wind” or “breath”. “Holy Spirit” therefore is literally the “Breath of God”. How arrogant it is to think that I have the audacity to push so hard, without relying on the “Breath of Life” to sustain me.
How does this happen? Well, sometimes it is plain arrogance saying “I can do it!”. Pride is not a good coach! We need to rely on the “Counselor”, as Jesus called His Spirit. That’s when we hear those encouraging words; “You can’t. But, with Me – you will!”. Of course, a good coach will also tell you when to slow down, when you need rest and when to stop. If we fail to listen to the Spirit’s counsel, we end up falling short of the goal, winded, out of Breath and it’s our own fault.
Sometimes we try to run a course that we aren’t meant to be on. Life is full of those! It may even be a course that we feel trained for; but the LORD has other, better plans. In 1924 Eric Liddell encountered just such a spiritual challenge. Eric was a young Scotsman who loved to run and sincerely felt that God had gifted him in this area. He also felt led to the missions field. Eric was called upon by Britain to represent their nation in the 1924 Olympics. After much prayer, he trained and qualified for the 100 meter race. However, he learned that the final race was scheduled for a Sunday. Eric believed that it was improper to participate in “frivolous activity on the LORD’s Day”. He refused to run despite pressure from the Olympic committee. A compromise was reached and Eric was allowed to compete in a 400 meter slot, a distance that others told him he would never make; that he didn’t “have the wind for it”. Eric won the race, achieving far more than he had trained for or had hoped to achieve. Afterwards God continued to lead Eric in His service in the mission field.
Another reason sometimes stems from allowing ourselves to get out of shape, spiritually. Failure to read and study God’s training manual, the Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth Book, as I’ve heard it called, can leave us floundering without direction. Prayer requires listening as well as admitting needs and presenting them. These things all need to be a part of our daily training regimen. Otherwise you will end up winded like a weight lifter who has neglected the benefits of cardio training. Remember that it is God Who determines the length of our life’s course and God Who offers the Breath of Life. If we want to do some real Power walking, it’s up to us to make sure we are filled with the Breath of God and not just our own hot air!