What's Your Strategy?
Ah, the timeless game of 'bobbing for apples' conjures up memories of water sucked back into my sinuses. Fun times!.... Not really. It took a lot of bobbing, lurching, and cajoling those delicious apples before I finally realized a tried and true method to get one. The other evening, I watched with fascination as kids of all ages (not me) tried their hand at this Halloween party staple.
Have you ever bobbed for apples? Did you struggle to get one? Did you discover a good way to get one without drowning? Care to share? Well, the kids all seemed to have a plan going into the water filled tub. Some approached the water with dainty apprehension while others plunged their heads deep into the H2O. One young man, who must have been thinking of his plan for some time, inspected each apple then went after the one with the longest stem. He picked the apple up by the stem with his teeth! WIN! His look of success and happiness was worth my time invested watching him!
One by one, each child found a way to get that elusive apple. One chap even brought his hand into the water and pushed the apple into his mouth. I think that may have bent the rules of the game but oh well. He got his reward. There was that one child who plunged, got the apple, stood upright, then spit excess water back into the tub. [Now you know why I refrained from bobbing..... :) ]
Our walk of faith can in some ways be equated to the game of bobbing for apples. We all seem to have a plan. Some have better plans than others and some seem to thrive while others seem to thrash and flail all over the place. Some have thought deeply about their plan while others have plunged ahead with no forethought. Some folks even bend the rules and use whatever means necessary to move forward. What is the best plan for faith walking through life? That is a million dollar question for many.
The apostle Paul had a plan. His plan included copious amounts of faith and trust in God and the power of Jesus' death and resurrection. He understood the idea of expending oneself for the sake of the Gospel. He would leave nothing in reserve in pursuit of the prize at the end of his earthly life. Take a look here in Corinthians.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to
get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown
that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man
running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so
that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV)
In order for our faith to have any power, Paul seems to suggest that we form a plan that includes a fully orbed focus upon self examination. What are we willing to offer in service to God? Whether training for a marathon or trapping an apple in the wash tub, we will have to expend some energy. While Paul understood salvation to be a free gift of God apart from works (see Ephesians 2:8-10), he knew a life lived in comfort did not strengthen one's faith. James in his writing would echo that sentiment. "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:14-26)
When we have received this free gift of God, it becomes imperative that we employ every ounce of our being to serve the Living God! It is important to remember God's rules for living though. Our best laid plans often drive our faith walk off the rails. The words of King Solomon ring in my ears, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
Today as you form your plans, will your plans include some convenient shortcuts that seem prudent to you? Or, will you knowingly try some underhanded stuff to get by? Hope not! Or, will those plans include a generous trust in God who goes ahead of you to prepare your way? Hope so! You know my motto, I'd rather wear out than rust out. Let's go God is awaiting our arrival!!
"A Musing Pastor"