Whatever you do… just keep running!

 

[Hebrews 12:1-2]

Last night at CU, the talk was on ‘Running the Race, and Keeping the Faith’. I love this passage from Hebrews, but this time something smacked me in the chest! For the first time, this passage was deeply personal. Matt, the guy who spoke to us had 3 points, with the overall focus to encourage the CU to keep running:

1. Listen to the Crowd

2. Drop the Weight

3. Focus on Christ

The first point of listening to the crowd meant a great deal to me. He gave the analogy of Wembley Stadium being full of ex-Olympians, who represent the great cloud of witnesses mentioned in vs. 1,  cheering the current ones on, and encouraging them to keep running.

When Matt was talking about this, the thought of my Grandpa kept slipping into my brain. He is now a part of that great cloud of witnesses cheering me on, telling me that whatever I do, I just need to keep on running!

At his funeral, with the stories of his life that were being told, this passage was clearly evidenced in my Grandpa’s life – this philosophy to keep running because the prize at the end is worth it all was how he lived his life. He always looked for the silver-lining as it were in every situation, saw the best in everyone, offering a second chance to anyone that needed it, a real demonstration of what it meant to forgive 70×7, as well as continuously encouraging people, particularly those close to him. We heard stories of how he brought 100s of boys into the Church through his involvement in the Boys Brigade, and that was something that just blew me away, and continues to blow me away daily.

Isn’t it amazing when you think you know someone, and you love them for who they are, to then find out they are even more amazing than you first knew?! He was a great encouragement to many in his life, and for me, he continues to be a massive encouragement to me, even though he has gone. But I know that he has joined that great cloud of witnesses that the writer of Hebrews talks about.

I want to live my life in a similar way to the way he lived his. For a Methodist, he was very forward-thinking and eager to try new things, particularly when it meant bringing young people in to the Church!

Now I know, that with every day, wherever I am on my journey with Christ, my Grandpa is stood in the stadium, with his gold medal saying “fix your eyes on Jesus and just keep running! I have tasted and seen the prize at the end and it’s amazing and well worth it all!”

That alleviates my fears, and gives me a new confidence to approach each new day, knowing that God is with me, and promises to be with me to the very end, and that I have a great cloud of witnesses, including my Grandpa supporting, and encouraging me through it all! All I need to remember is that I just need to keep running!

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Coming with childlike wonder…

I am currently on placement with a Christian youth organisation called ‘Youth for Christ’ with specifically working with the organisation on the Wirral. It’s mission statement is to “take the good news relevantly to all young people in Wirral”. I have been having a great time so far, and it’s teaching me so much about myself, young people, my theology, and even about God.

Something that has continued to amaze me is the faith of the young people I come into contact with, particularly those I get to chat with at PULSE groups – a small group, based on a Christian Union structure which provides a safe space for young people to explore the Christian faith together. Last week we did a session with them on Evangelism and I was so encouraged to see each of them so passionate about God and the faith they hold that they were so open and willing to share it with their friends! When asking them whether they found sharing their faith with others easy or hard, I was astonished to hear  them all respond so positively and say ‘well it’s easy isn’t it, you can’t help but do it!’ This really blew me away and something I kept thinking about was – (a) I was never this confident in sharing my faith with my peers at their age; and (b) am I confident today to share my faith with others? These PULSE groups are really challenging me to dig deeper into my faith and look harder at how I demonstrate that I am a Christian to others.

This experience for me was a privilege to witness these young people’s faith and reminded me of the passage in Matthew (cf. Matthew 11:25) where Jesus praises God for revealing things about the kingdom to “little children” rather than those that are “wise and learned”. It has now made me realise that it is (a) about leading these sessions with that same ‘childlike wonder’ – not overcomplicating things, but having the heart of the Christian message, that God loves each and every person so much that he sent Jesus to live and die for them so that he could have a restored relationship with them which is at the very heart of Wirral YFC’s vision – to take the good news relevantly to every young person in Wirral; and (b) taking that beyond into my own life back in Chester or Leicester or wherever I happen to be!

There’s no hierarchy here! Even though I am seen as the educator in those situations with each young person I come into contact with, those young people also educate me, and that’s the amazing thing! It’s about working together, and walking alongside one another to better this world and proclaim the good news of Jesus and the kingdom that is in store for us! 🙂

COME TO GOD WITH CHILDLIKE WONDER TODAY! 😀