During the recent anti-cycling frosty freeze, I was forced to jog with grumpy mates ‘Arthur’ and ‘Titus’, my 2 knees which prefer pounding grass and sand to concrete, to protect my fragile limbs. I seek no sympathy! I don’t really like running but get energised by any outdoor exercise. Indeed, on Saturday I was ‘Zoomed Oot!’ a total ‘Zoomer’! On Zoom solid for 6 hours. It was dark, wet and windy, going out for a jog the last thing I felt like doing, but my soul craved fresh air and kept repeating “Just Do It!” Do you find that often it’s the thing you feel least like doing (e.g. praying, Bible reading, connecting with others, etc…) that’s actually the BEST thing for you? ‘Self-control’ is a fruit and friend to be grateful for, the determination and self-discipline to do what’s good for us and others regardless of how we feel.
After 3 weeks without a serious road cycle I was overjoyed to get back on the saddle to scale Fairlie Moor. Peching up this Ayrshire Everest I realised that, without regular practice, it is easy to lose stamina, fitness and freedom to do things you previously took for granted. ‘Use it or lose it!’ applies to many things in life: intimacy and romance with your partner; friendship; gifts, talents and abilities; confidence to do something, etc.
Then it also struck me how easily we can ‘Cruise-it and lose it’. Getting so comfortable and cushty with the way things are, that we settle or sink into routine ruts. We hug comfort rather than seek the counterintuitive pain that will strengthen, sharpen and harvest blessing for self and others. Jesus warns us against burying our talents and dodging the hard work of maximising God’s gifts. Taking what we have for granted runs the serious risk of losing it all. Unless we gratefully exercise and practise the gifts and muscles of ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ they will easily atrophy, shrink and become negligible in our life.
The church at Laodicea was in danger of ‘losing it’ by ‘cruising & snoozing it’. It was the mustard seed parable in reverse. This once vibrant, hospitable, Jesus-centred, outward-looking, servant hearted, sacrificially giving, God glorifying People of God had let their flame of Faith, Hope and Love reach such a low peep that it was in danger of going out completely.
Here’s the cold shower God puts them under to reignite their ‘first love’:
“I know you inside and out and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. (Revelation 3:15-17 / MSG)
It reminds me of the sobering safety ad’ “John died in his sleep. He was warm, comfortable and driving at 70 miles per hour.”
As an activist I’m more in danger of losing it by ‘cruise control’ than lack-lustre ‘snoozing’. But I recognise both dangers and ask those who buddy, mentor and look out for me: to keep me accountable in the daily exercise of Faith, Hope, Love, Grace, Mercy & Peace Making; to ensure I don’t abuse God’s gifts, rather invest and use them wisely and well in the service of others. Far from ‘lose it’ let’s ‘GOOD NEWS IT!’