Like many of you I have been quite busy as of late. I have been teaching two college courses during the week as well as putting in a few extra hours at my full-time job. Sixty hour work weeks take their toil.
After five weeks of that schedule, I was spent. As a result, I forced myself to rest this past Sunday. I slept in. I took the family to church. I then spent the afternoon doing something I rarely do–nothing. I even napped. Then I watched the conclusion of the PGA Championship–the last “major” of the year. It wasn’t very exciting. The leader was Jason Dufner. He would win by two strokes. He didn’t do anything amazing on Sunday. Just one boring par after another. That’s when a comment caught my attention. He had put together a string of some twenty-five or so pars in a row. A round and a half of error-free golf.
No birdies. No bogies. Just pars.
Just doing what was necessary.
Hopefully that describes my life over the past month. I can attest that I have accomplished nothing which could be described as “amazing.” At the same time, however, I don’t believe I have messed things up too terribly either. In a sense, I have tried to hit it straight, stay on the fairway, and two-putt the green.
Don’t you think Jesus is pleased with faithfulness?
I am convinced that He is.
This morning I read Romans, chapter one, again. Paul admitted that he felt an obligation to testify concerning the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. I thought about my obligations afterwards. My life situation is very different from that of the Apostle Paul. He was single. I am married. He did not have children. I have four. His full-time vocation was ministry. Mine is the workplace. But his call to faithfulness is identical to my own.
He was called to remain faithful to his Lord and his responsibilities and I am to do the same.
I recently taught the book of Colossians to a group of students. The last question on the test was regarding Archippus (Col. 4:17). Paul wrote a somewhat cryptic statement when he said, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it” (NASB). The Message renders that as: “And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, ‘Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best.”
To which particular “ministry” is Paul referring? We do not know. Apparently a believer named Archippus was struggling with remaining faithful. Paul’s exhortation is clear: “Re-engage. Get busy at doing what you are supposed to be doing. Don’t fizzle out. Be faithful.”
A good word for all of us to hear. A great phrase every servant of God desires to hear is “Well-done.” That’s what Jason Dufner heard Sunday as they handed him the Wanamaker Trophy. That’s what I want to hear from Jesus when I finally see His glorious face.
What’s your plan for the rest of this week?
Can I make a suggestion?
Try to make par.
I have never liked the eighth month of the year. It is hot. It is long. And it is the last month to survive without football.
Doesn’t sound too spiritual, eh?! Easter is a distant memory. We are months away from the first Christmas decorations being hung in the mall. It is almost three months before we celebrate God’s grand work in the Protestant Reformation.
What are we to do?
Have you ever heard the term “The Dogs Days of Summer”?
One online dictionary provides two definitions for this concept.
1. The hot, sultry period of summer between early July and early September.
2. A period of stagnation
Without a doubt, Tennessee in August in hot and sultry! When I cut the grass today, the temperature was around 85 and so was the humidity! The idea of stagnation is also a reality. The grass which was growing rapidly in Spring and Early Summer has slowed. So has my motivation to begin or complete outside projects. It is an indoor season where we enjoy modern amenities as we eagerly await fall.
Sounds like an opportunity to me!
Sounds like an opportunity for me to avoid spiritual stagnation. However–if I can be honest with you–the opportunity before me is one of re-engagement. I’ve been reading God’s Word and praying some and attending church, but duty rather than desire best describes my condition as of late.
Ever been there? Ever been in the place where “restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12) became more than just a heart-felt prayer of King David?
This “man-after-God’s-own-heart” didn’t conclude his prayer with those words. He added, “And sustain me with a willing spirit.” In The Message, Eugene Peterson rendered that request, “And put fresh wind in my sails”! Indeed! Perhaps a better understanding of this prayer unites both the Spirit of God with the spirit of the man of God. David is admitting that his spirit needs the Holy Spirit! “If I be left to myself” Matthew Henry worded the petition, “I shall certainly sink” (e-Sword quotations).
We certainly shall sink if left to ourselves! We sink every time we attempt to please God apart from God. Without Christ, we cannot grow in our love or passion for Christ (John 15:5).
So–what should be our plan as these “dog days” continue? Fellowship with Jesus! The means of grace are gifts given to us to enjoy our relationship with Christ. And while they do indeed remain duties, they can also be–should also be–delights. May God grant us the joy and willing spirits we desperately require to avoid spiritual stagnation.
Pray that for me. I’ll pray the same for you if you need me to.