Today is day 304 of my running streak. Only two months to go and this oh-so-challenging task can be marked off my to do list once and for all. I look forward to the day that NOT running is an option again. Of course I still plan to run more days than not, but it will be by choice not by obligation. Isn't everything less enjoyable when it is by obligation?
For instance, if I read my Bible and pray and go to church because somewhere along the line I've decided that's what I have to do ... my spirituality suddenly stops being enjoyable. Obligation and legalism make one religious, not spiritual. But not only does obligation remove the joy, it also prevents fruitfulness. Performance of religious habits without the life-giving guidance, motivation, and joy of the Holy Spirit is empty and futile. Let me illustrate what I mean.
Many of you know I recently purchased a kayak (a purchase which proved to be more costly than anticipated ... click here for more on "the incident"). Elated to try out my new toy, I made my way to a beautiful Tennessee lake. The first time I put the kayak in the water and climbed in, the rudder "ran aground" and came off. Friend and camping buddy, Becca, asked if I wanted to pull the kayak out and put the rudder back on.
"Nah, I'll try it without it first."
Famous last words.
Have you ever tried to paddle a kayak without a rudder?
Have you ever tried to herd cats?
Have you ever tried to nail jello to a tree?
All of these are exercises in futility.
With every stroke, the kayak twisted and turned, but did not move forward.
Stroke right, turn left.
Stroke left, turn right.
Back and forth.
Forth and back.
Going absolutely nowhere.
"Um ... Becca ... I think I'll take that rudder now."
Maybe that's where you live right now. You're making a lot of effort, but going nowhere. Don't give up! You just need a rudder. Water crafts were not designed to work without one, and neither were we.
In fact, Jesus said it wasn't possible to be fruitful without Him. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). He even gave the disciples strict instructions not to bother leaving the house until they had the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1). Another exercise in futility.
Though "church sign wisdom" seems a bit oxymoronic, this one is actually on point:
I've never tried to dribble a football, but if it is anything like paddling a rudderless kayak, it is comical at first, then just exhausting.
Today, however, I took my kayak out again - rudder in place - and enjoyed kayaking as it was intended. It was invigorating yet relaxing, productive yet therapeutic, beneficial yet enjoyable. Isn't that the abundant life we're seeking? It's an amazing ride ... that's actually going somewhere.