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Friday, July 14, 2017

Whose Race am I Running?

I began to notice the other day as I was listening to the shuffle of different “radio stations” that I had selected on my Pandora Plus account, that there are a whole bunch of different styles of Christian music out there… and many, many people who enjoy them!  What really caught my attention was the amount of clapping that preceded the various artists on the recordings that were made before a live audience.  Let me explain…

I have always enjoyed a wide variety of musical styles.  I think part of that comes from my Mom who loved to sing (she was in a popular quartet in high school), play the piano and dance with my Dad!  My Dad was kind of a quiet reserved fellow, but get him on the dance floor with my Mom, dancing to the music of the Big Bands from the 1940’s, and WOW!  They made a great duo!  -- A side note – My Mom would tell the story of their first dance together at a USO dance in New York during the war.  She stated how my Dad was really quiet and a bit detached which caused her to become a little irritated and thinking how “Stuck up this guy was!”  Later on, as the romance grew, he confided in her that he was actually extremely nervous and was counting his steps throughout the dance in order to not make a mistake! –

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, my Mom had music playing all day long in our home.  Anything from the modern tunes that her favorite local radio station (KSRO – 1350 AM) was playing, to Big Band (she had a nice collection of 78 rpm albums from her youth… which I inherited!), to show tunes, and even some opera… which never seemed to stick with me!  So you can see that I couldn’t help but have a high regard for many types of music! 

Since we’ve been out here in the Southeast, I have a new appreciation for and have even takin’-a-liken to Country music!  There is something about its simplicity that draws me to it!  I also enjoy the harmony!  That’s probably why a band like the Second Chapter of Acts in the 70’s and 80’s became my all-time favorite Christian Band.

But you must understand… In my circle of friends and family back in Northern California, many would of thought that I had lost my marbles if I ever listened to Country Music when we lived there!  It wasn’t until we lived in Oklahoma for three years, and our current three years in North Carolina, that I began to gain an understanding of the Southern culture and be able to enjoy their music, cuisine and lifestyle.  One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in our years outside the borders of California, has been to appreciate the many different lifestyles, cultures and viewpoints of the citizens of our great country.  I believe it has given me a more open and accepting view of others who may look or live different than what I am used to.

And that brings me back to the different styles of music and the different folks who enjoy them!  You can tell from the applause and audience interaction with the various musical groups in concert, that the listeners have a close connection with what that particular music style represents!  In Philippians 3:12-14 the Apostle Paul is telling us that:

“It's not that I've already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me.  Brothers and sisters, I can't consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don't look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus. (God’s Word ©)

As I was studying this conversation this morning I began to ask myself what “course” Paul was discussing and what was the “goal” that he was striving to reach.  Now, I realize that in the context of the statement that he was discussing the Christian’s life walk and their desire to receive their heavenly reward.  But on a greater scale, I believe that this scripture can also be taken personally by each of us as we not “look back,” but “lengthen our strides” and “run straight toward the goal” of completing the course in this life that the Lord has individually called us to participate in.”

Jesus’ parable of the master and his three servants in Matthew 25:14-30 would collaborate this thought.  Each worker was given a different amount of money… or you could say a different calling to accomplish.  Upon his return the master gave the same bountiful reward to the two servants who excelled in what they each were given to do.  The third servant was frozen by fear and did nothing with his given task.  He ended up receiving zero reward from his master, and in fact… what he was originally given was taken away and split between the other two workers!

Over the last ten years of this journey that my wife and I have been on with the fight for her health, we have been told by various friends and family members that “If we were really serious about her healing then we would have done such and such.”  The only problem with all of their suggestions was that they were NOT what the Lord had specifically told US to do.  It was a different path than what He has outlined for US… It was THEIR path, according to how THEY would have done it, based on THEIR lifestyle, THEIR personal experiences, and the direction that the Lord would usually direct THEIR paths.

Now that I have walked in these shoes… sort of speak… for these last years, I have a whole new appreciation for others in my past who have walked similar journeys that we find ourselves in.  If I could go back, I would offer my assistance to them and encourage them right where THEIR faith was, and not where I thought it should be!  I would strive to be a help and not a hindrance to them.

It is my hope that some of our experiences during these last ten years would be an encouragement to our readers, in that you might personally seek and follow the Lord’s directions for YOUR lives!  I can guarantee that you’ll run into folks who are more than willing to direct your paths… but you know, those directions just don’t usually pan out.  I’ve discovered that in the heat of your difficult circumstances, that God’s Word and His personal directions to you in line with that Word are the only things that will not only hold you up… but carry you through to the finish line!

Have a marvelous weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose plan am I expecting to follow in order to complete the race that is set before ME?”

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