Monday, March 17, 2014

Take me with you to the top - Lenten Journey Day 11

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

This weekend a friend and I went for a bike ride to Fashion Island. 

Some of you are thinking….”I didn’t know you lived near Fashion Island”.  Well, I don’t, I live about 12 miles or so (biking). I’ve never ridden this particular route that far, but the distance was a relatively easy ride for me so I was definitely up for it.

The ride was going well and then we hit Jamboree Road.  If you’re driving this road in a car, you take the incline for granted, but my bike didn’t.  Immediately the difference between my friend’s more advanced bike and my little road bike was evident.  His began to power up the hill efficiently. Mine?  Well….I probably would’ve been more effective riding a Big Wheel.  He noticed my struggle and asked if I wanted to ride ahead of him. 

I’ve already been frank with you about my pride issues, so when I know I’m going to perform badly, I DEFINITELY don’t want an audience. 

I declined and let him go in front.

Each rotation of my wheel felt like I was trying to push through quicksand.  I was going slower….and slower up the hill. Then it got worse.  Part way up, my shoes came unclipped from my pedals and since gravity was pulling me backwards I could not get momentum to go forward.  I tried.  No dice.  Then it got even better…..I fell.  Yup. If you were riding down Jamboree this weekend and saw someone fall….that was me.
As I got up from the ground, my friend circled back and was standing next to me.

“Let me help you,” he said.

I got on my bike and he held it up until I could clip in and then walked along side my bike until I got enough momentum to go up the hill.  He then jumped on his bike and rode behind me.

I’d love to tell you the hill got easier.
It didn’t. 

But what I did have was my friend behind me encouraging me the whole way up.

“You’re doing great”
“You can do this”
“We’re almost there….just a little bit more”

His “You cans” tuned out my “You can’ts” until we finally reached the top.

I made it and it was as much his victory as it was mine.

This is the power we have in others’ lives.

Everybody has their strengths.  This is a beautiful thing, but it is also a dangerous one. Why dangerous?  It’s easy for us to judge others through our strongest lens.  If you find it easy to stay in shape and be disciplined, you might nitpick with those who struggle with weight.  If you’re a confident extrovert, you may judge those more withdrawn.  If you’re blessed with a good career or a home, you may look at those on the street critically.  If you consider yourself a good parent, you may criticize those who seem negligent.  If you’re not tempted in a particular area you may look disapprovingly at those who do.

But that’s not why we’re strong.

My friend had a choice.  So do we.
He could’ve kept going up the hill, then stood at the top annoyed and disapprovingly as I struggled. 
He could’ve came back and allowed me to give up or go an easier route. 
He didn’t.  He came alongside me and helped me.  
He encouraged me to find the strength to do what my body was saying was impossible. 

So when God shows you a weakness in another, pause the criticism. 

How are you going to use your strength?
Will you use it to beat others down, or lift them up?
Will you use it to discourage or encourage?
Will you stand on your own respective hilltops and judge those struggling at the bottom or will you heed the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and reach down to lift them up.

Because that’s what Christ did for you. 

It was his love that bowed down low to earth in order to lift us up high; out of condemnation into redemption.   

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. -2 Corinthians 8:9

This is the powerful grace we have received.

This is the powerful grace we are to extend to others.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! -Philippians 2:8

Where are you strong?

Take your iron and go sharpen others. 

Let’s pray:  Dear Lord, it says in your word, in Jude 1:20 that we are the “build one another up in our most Holy faith”.  We thank You for the opportunity to use us as vessels of strength, edification, and encouragement to others.  We come against a spirit of judgment, criticism, or arrogance.  May we humble ourselves, just as Jesus did.  Where we are strong, help use us to strengthen others.  Where we are weak, surround us with those who can spur us towards accomplishing what seems impossible.  Surround us with brothers and sisters where we can develop one another’s faith.  We are one body. Help us to do our part as members of the body of Christ to build Your kingdom.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Now listening to: I need you to survive

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