“How fast can we paddle back to the beach!” I asked.
“No idea,” my husband answered.
“Let see how fast this double canoe can go!” I knew I could provoke Vince’s competitive side.
“Okay, let’s do it.”
The Race is On
It was a scorching triple-digit summer morning, but a paddle race on Lake Las Vegas was a fabulous way to end our anniversary staycation.
I positioned my paddle, set my smartphone stopwatch, and shouted, “Ready, set–go!”
Our canoe skated across the water as we paddled with rhythmic determination. Water splashed everywhere with every stroke. We weren’t Olympians, but our momentum created a breeze that felt liberating.
The view of the resort grew larger with every minute. I could see the beautiful shore with its mixture of trees and tropical palms get closer and closer.
Four minutes and sixteen seconds later, we skid onto the sandy beach. “Was that a good time?” I asked while I caught my breath.
“For us, it was a world record,” Vince responded playfully.
We embraced the challenge and finished strong.
We were winded but passed the heart endurance test. Moments later, I experience a different kind of heart test.
In the hotel coffee shop, my morning turned into mourning. A television news report was broadcasting sobering images: bombs, bloodshed, and people filled with fear as they looked for answers. My heart broke, emotions unleashed, and a defiant tear contradicted my composure.
Lord, how do I process this? What can I do? Show me how to respond and not react.
I silently prayed. I needed to experience a deeper level of faithfulness that would help me spiritually finish strong.
Our Spiritual Race
We run a race. It’s a race that has one participant—you. It’s a race against ourselves to remain faithful—to trust God during every tragedy, setback, and need.
“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
Acts 20:24 New American Standard Bible
On the horizon, we see God’s plan. It seems far, unattainable and unclear, yet with inner resolve, we follow God and press forward.
Our path to faithfulness isn’t a journey of isolation; God is with us. Our faith gains momentum, and it becomes the needed breeze that calms the sting of resistance. We finish strong.
The Course We Follow
Every race has challenges. Our “faith” race, however, offers one impenetrable gift—freedom. A freedom that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. A freedom that helps us cry out, “I trust in you.”
Throughout Biblical history, God’s people have revered and rebelled, followed and failed, conquered and crumbled. They’ve been oppressed, persecuted, and killed. Freedom, however, was on the horizon every time God’s people drew closer to Him.
When Jesus walked the earth, he wasn’t what people expected. They expected a King with an army that would free them from human oppression. God the Father, however, gave them a King that would free them from spiritual oppression.
Jesus wasn’t just any king, but the King of Kings. The one who would rule and reign for all eternity. Jesus came to free us from the sin that invades self-governing hearts.
I Trust You
Can we say, “I trust you, Lord?”
I often ask this question. Life brings challenges, and now we can see world challenges with a few clicks on our smartphones. We see the suffering, we see the injustice, we see the sin that invades self-governing hearts.
Satan has unleashed his putrid venom because He knows His time is short. He knows that Jesus is the King of Kings. He knows that Jesus brings true freedom.
Freedom in Christ allows us to say, “I trust you.”
Why would we want anything less? Why would we settle for a concept of God that limits him to a universe, higher power, or energy? God is a person who wants intimate fellowship with His creation. He is our hope, and God does not want to remain unknown. (The Apostle Paul said it best in his sermon found in Acts 17:22-30.)
How do we finish strong? We remain free.
How do we remain free? We remain faithful.
How do we remain faithful? We spend time with our King.
Jesus Christ surrendered his life for freedom!
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.