I was at a state cross country meet recently and the seniors spoke prior to running the race. One senior spoke on settling into a running pace and its dangers. As he spoke, I thought about the race we run in our faith. It is good to make a habit of evaluating our walk with Christ, relationships, how we spend our time, and the decisions we make. We need a purpose. There are a lot of good things we can be involved in but what does God want us to do? What is our life aim? Do we even have a life aim? Many want Jesus so say well done my good and faithful servant. What is my specific plan to reach that aim? We need live intentionally, with purpose. Paul speaks of running the race and stopping those things that are a distraction or hurtful to himself (I Cor 9.24-26). Children are called arrows in their fathers quiver (Ps 125.5). The purpose of an arrow is to be shot and hit the target. The archer sees the target. He prepares by putting the arrow on the string. He pulls back and lets the arrow fly.
He does not have instant skill. He hits the target more and more often as he practices. Arrows are not meant to stay in the quiver. We need to practice with our tools. We will get better as we exercise our faith. I won’t give examples because I want you to think of how you can exercise your faith and not be tempted to limit yourself to my list. We need to use our tools on a regular basis to become skilled. If we don’t have a target we won’t hit it.
I have an artsy friend that brings beauty and points to God in her creations. I do not have her flair. Could I do what she does? Maybe, but it would probably be lifeless, a heavy labor, and take a lot of time. She works hard and flings beauty and vibrancy all around her. Here is another example: A duck paddles well and swims well. The eagle soars on invisible streams of air. Neither one can do the other’s job. God has given each of us a unique mix of interests and abilities. All of it can be used to His glory.
As we grow in Christ we need to be on guard to excel still more and not settle for status quo. This is not so we loved more by God or to earn a better standing with Him but out of appreciation of all He has done for us. Nothing we do can make Him love us more. He is head over heels in love with us already. But how can we coast in our relationship with Him and stop growing when we are so richly blessed? The author of Hebrews reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12.1). We are not alone. God empowers us to what whatever He calls us to, if we cling to him. They are cheering us on. We must strive to reach the goal that is uniquely our in His kingdom. Excel still more! I think Paul’s words sum it up perfectly when he wrote to those is Thessalonia: 1Th 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. (NASB)