If you've read this blog for any length of time (or know me in person), you probably know that I love sports. I love Ohio State football (and really any college football) and basketball. I enjoy watching the Cincinnati Reds when I can (we dropped cable this winter, so that's less often). Our kids play a number of sports and we do enjoy that.
Well, anyway, I love to watch sports and cheer for them. Participate? Not really.
The scriptures have a number of sports analogies and allusions, don't they? Run the race. Striving for the prize. Bodily training. An athelete crowned. Run with endurance.
In this fifth chapter of Own Your Life, Clarkson encourages us to strive beyond what we would see as our abilities. She endeavors to show how the Lord uses the challenging circumstances of our lives to discipline and train us for His kingdom. As a coach or trainer, the Father is not harsh, yet is demanding. He redeems, revives, sustains us for His purposes. He comes along side us to encourage and push (sometimes pull) us toward the finish line.
I tend to want to quit. I don't like to participate in sports and I don't liked to be pushed anywhere near my limits. But, if I give up, Clarkson argues, I am weakening my own character.
I'm just not sure I agree. Some of us are called to serve in quiet ways, in the background, without fanfare. In Chapter 4, that seemed to be the kind of service Sally was talking about. Caring for children who were suffering a difficult time in their lives. Making meals for those who were for some reason needing them. Quietly helping a family with babysitting. Praying for one another. This kind of service and fellowship, this kind of love, is very important. We are called to serve one another in these and myriad other ways where service is called for. We aren't all called to great, glorious, front and center things. Andi Ashworth's Real Love for Real Life is a wonderful book to describe the ministry of quiet caring that many are called to. Highly Recommended.
In Chapter 2 (I think it was), my husband was appalled by that list of "oughts" that so many of us Christian women feel buried under. He reminded me, again, that Jesus' burden is easy and light. But that burden includes loving one another in real and practical ways. A meal, nursery duty, babysitting, gardening, raking leaves for the elderly, calling a friend just because, etc. But, these are examples of ideas, not a list of expectations. Do something, not all the things! These can be hard to do when you're homeschooling and at soccer every day, but are valuable forms of service that, though in the background are essential to the Body of Christ.
I do think I need to strive harder toward my goals of service, though, which is why I chose the quote above. We are called to some form of service, whether flashy or quiet, and we ought to persist to the finish line.
I have to admit this isn't my favorite chapter so far. I get so annoyed at "Christian Living" books that feel the need to write a chapter about the gospel - not that I don't love the gospel - because I don't think many non-Christians will read the book in the first place. Then to relegate God to the meager position of life coach - which I don't think is how Sally sees him! - is frustrating to me. The gospel, the story of creation, fall, and redemption is glorious and a mere chapter doesn't seem to suffice. I'm surprised it was buried in Chapter 5 in Own Your Life, I'm interested to see how it fits into her structured argument about owning our lives.
Don't forget to check out Heather's post.