…about everything in our lives?
Author: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
June 2012, I had been on a new journey to lose weight. I have the type of body that truly needs discipline. I gain weight instantly if I am not careful about the way I eat and or exercise. Towards the end of 2011 we were dealing with the never-ending battle with our lender trying to keep our home when I had allowed the stress of that situation to get the best of me and thus, I had gained a lot of weight – for me. However, as the new year approached, our circumstances did not change, but I had decided to lose the weight. Through a nice diet I did begin to lose some weight, but for the first time in my life I decided to start jogging.
My husband Omar loves to jog. To this very day he jogs all the time. I asked him to help me get started. We were living in Pasadena, California. Our jogging took place at a very popular exercise destination for many – the Rose Bowl. Yes, the famous Rose Bowl where legends on the football field are made. It’s also a very popular location for walkers, joggers, and bikers. It is a three-mile stretch around the entire Rose Bowl. On the outskirts of the Rose Bowl is a golf course. It’s a lovely place. Before this new jogging attempt, I walked the Rose Bowl on many occasions. My favorite thing to do would be to wake up early and be out there in the midst of other exercise early birds. On a beautiful day all you’d see is a clear sky and feel the morning dew. You could feel the energy of everyone out there. I loved it.
So, I began my jogging journey. We took it slow. We walk three minutes, then jogged two minutes. Each time we went to the Rose Bowl Omar would increase the jogging time. Jogging went from three minutes, to four minutes and so on. I didn’t keep a watch so I relied on Omar to let me know when we could start walking after jogging the allotted time. One day, however, I felt as if we were jogging forever. Sure enough Omar had me go longer than the time I was expecting. I had jogged longer without knowing it and I slowly jogged longer and longer each time we went to the Rose Bowl.
One morning, Omar was busy and couldn’t go with me to the Rose Bowl, so I went by myself. That morning, I decided I was going to try to jog around the entire Rose Bowl without stopping!
The path around the Rose Bowl is designed in a circle, however one side is like a slight incline and the other side is simply going downhill, if you will. Both sides are equal to 1.5 miles. On average a female (in decent shape) can run 1.5 miles in twelve or thirteen minutes. Someone like me could possibly do it in about fifteen to twenty minutes. I had just barely reached the point of running ten minutes non-stop but on this day, I was going to attempt to run 1.5 miles non-stop up a slight incline without Omar’s help. If I could reach the end of the 1.5 miles without stopping, I knew all I had to do was allow gravity to pull me down the other side and I would accomplish running 3 miles non-stop.
As I started to run, I felt fine for about five minutes then I began to get really tired and I told myself to stop and try again another day.
Instead of stopping, however, I decided to pray.
I asked God to give me the strength to reach the end of the 1.5 miles. I kept going. I felt fine for a few minutes – but again I was getting tired. To help myself I looked for markers to reach. I told myself if I could make it to a certain pole I would keep going. I prayed for God to help me reach the pole.
As I reached the pole, I got a burst of energy for a few minutes but then got tired again. I told myself to stop and try again another day.
But again, I said, “Lord, I can do this with your help, help me to reach the end.”
I found another marker. Again, I told myself if I reached the second pole I would keep going. I prayed for God to help me reach the pole. He did and I continued to run. I started to pass a few people. As I did – I started to get tired again. Just give up, I thought. I made it this far! Seriously, what was I trying to prove? No one out there would know I didn’t accomplish what I tried to accomplish!
Except me – and God!
I continued to run. I prayed to God again to give me the strength to keep going and to make it to the end.
I was tired and I wanted to give up so badly!
But – I could see the end. The excitement in me started to build. I started saying to God, “We did it!” Sure enough, I had reached the end of the 1.5-mile stretch without stopping. All I had to do was simply glide my way down the other side.
And – I did. That day I set out to reach a goal, prayed and asked God to give me strength and He did! Because of God and only because of my prayers to Him did I accomplish my goal that morning!
You’re Kidding Right?! Why Would God Care About You Jogging?
You might be thinking this sounds ridiculous. Why on earth would God care about helping me or anyone run without stopping? What does this have to do with life – I mean, real life problems people face every day?
It has everything to do with life every day. Through that experience and through a host of other experiences in my life, I have learned to fully rely on and trust God with every detail of my life. I have learned to pray to Him about everything. That situation taught me that I cannot do anything in my power but through the power of the Holy Spirit, when I pray – I can accomplish much. What I am writing isn’t just about personal aspirations, it’s about knowing that we are all here on earth for God’s purpose – to do His will. Walking as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ is not an easy road – it’s hard. (Kind of like jogging three miles non-stop for the first time).
When we don’t seek God in our daily lives for all things, we won’t understand the battles we face as believers. We won’t understand the drudgery of living by faith alone. We won’t walk the tough roads – we’ll stop “running”. There’s nothing wrong with having personal goals and achieving them – but it’s bigger than that! Much bigger! The more you bring God into every situation in your life – the more the Kingdom of God is expanded. Your personal relationship and experiences are a testimony to others which can bring others into a relationship with Him. I don’t want to imply that as a Christian every single day is a nightmare – but it is a hard journey at times – and as a believer you will face big and small challenges each day and you want to be ready at all times to bring Jesus Christ into every situation. Every victory God gives you in life – through your prayers to Him – you are building spiritual muscles.
We Are A Constant Work in Progress
One of the best ways to understand our ongoing need for God in every aspects of our lives is understanding Sanctification. When considering the New Testament, the foretold Messiah entered into the world to save man from His sin and to restore Israel back to God. Jesus Christ came down into the world to reconcile man back to the Father. That reconciliation is still happening today. Although Jesus Christ came into the world and suffered death on the cross – God is still at work in His people. This ongoing work is called Sanctification. As the Father sent Jesus Christ into the world – the disciples went out into the world imparting the Holy Spirit for the continued work. Today, me and you, as disciples of Jesus Christ, are called to go into the world to continue the work. Sanctification brings us into an intimate fellowship with the Father and Son. That fellowship renews us every day when we intentionally seek His face. When we pray to God through all things our faith grows stronger – and our relationship with the Father and Son grows stronger. We may not always see the answers we are looking for, but nonetheless, our faith grows which helps us become more and more like Jesus Christ doing the will of the Father.
In John 4, Jesus talks with the woman at the well. At the end of the conversation with the woman His disciples wonder why He is talking with the woman because it was unaccustomed for men to talk with women at that time but they decided to trust Jesus’ reason. As they began to resume their travels the disciples offered Jesus some food, and he replied to them; John 4:33 “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” He went on to say; “My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” What Jesus was teaching them was about spiritual nourishment. If we consider this today, more than going to church or Bible studies, spiritual nourishment comes from doing God’s will and helping Him to bring His work of salvation to completion. We have work to do for God while we are here on earth. We cannot help God complete His work if we do not seek Him in all things. If all we do is go to church each week and maybe attend Bible studies, we have only scratched the surface of His work. In short – we are simply living a self-centered Christian existence. However, when we bring God into every situation in our lives and allow His will to come forth in those situations – then we are helping to bring salvation to completion. We are then in partnership with God to expand His Kingdom.
At the time of this writing, I work for Bellevue Baptist Church, an historic Baptist church in Memphis, TN. Bellevue has amazing resources to present the Gospel and one of the ways in through live reenactments. I was approached by the lead writer and director in the music ministry to play the part of Jochebed, Moses’ mother, in the reenactment she had written for the Biblical text for Family Worship services two weeks away. ( I wrote about it here.)
I could not believe my ears.
I happily accepted the part!
I immediately prayed for God’s blessing over the entire scene and I asked God to help me to prepare and perform Jochebed to the best of my ability. I studied commentary on Jochebed and took the opportunity to watch one of my favorite movies – The Ten Commandments.
The day arrived. The performance was for all three Family Worship services. The first performance was during the Saturday evening service. I had been in prayer all day. My part was the second scene. As I stood off stage waiting for my cue, my heart began to pound. I was very nervous, however, I said; “Holy Spirit flow through me. I cannot do this without you.”
It was time for Jochebed to enter.
I praised God when it was over.
We did the same scene two more times the next day for Family Worship Services. Again, both times, before entering for my scene my heart began to pound. Both times I said: “Holy Spirit flow through me. I cannot do this without you.”
The play was a huge success. It was the first time a reenactment to the text was presented for Family Worship Services. If I didn’t know any better, I would have let my personal part in the play go to my head. But I didn’t. We found out the minister that weekend said the play enhanced his preaching like never before. He said he never felt so empowered! That is awesome!
Second, we learned that a young girl received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior after one of the services. Amazing! That’s the power of bringing God into every situation! It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about Him! We are not simply on this earth to get by and to make a name for ourselves. We are here to partner with God for the completion of salvation. Whenever God entrust you to do something, it’s not because you’re so super wonderful, (you might be) but more than anything – you are to bring God into those situations and allow Him to do His work here on earth. Jogging is hard but it’s a great way to burn calories, stay in shape, be productive, and see God’s creation while outside. Don’t neglect prayer and believe He does not care about all things we endure. The more you bring Him into your life through prayer – the more your life is more about Him!
~Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS