The Encouragement of a Father

Psalm 18:30-36 says this:

30As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
31For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God,
32The God who girds me with strength And makes my way blameless?
33He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me upon my high places.
34He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great.
36You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped.

Too often we try to do it on our own, when it is the strength of the Lord that gives us what we need. So many times we just try to “gut it out” when we really need the encouragement of God to spur us on.

Just like a dad gives his kids courage to spread their wings and reach new heights, so God works in the lives of His children to give them everything they need to be who He wants them to be. If only we will hear His voice!

I saw a picture of this yesterday in my life. I didn’t get to my kids’ swim meet until it was nearly over because I had to teach a kids kenpo class and then go look at my grandma’s garage door opener. (yeah, the reminder I got from a friend the other day about needing some balance is ringing in my ears for sure) I got to the pool in time to see the last race for both James and Elizabeth. Thank God I didn’t miss the whole meet!

Now, let me start by saying that Elizabeth is not the fastest swimmer in the pool. She is amazingly smart, an excellent actress, a great cook and a wonderful young woman of God. Athletics, though, are not her thing. Swim team is a chance for her to work on that and get involved in an area that is weak for her. She loves practice but really doesn’t like races because she feels like she is slow and not very good.

She really struggled with her first races yesterday. She had to swim the first and last leg of a relay, which with her asthma was very difficult. She totally gassed on the last leg, and her team didn’t place. She was very, very upset with herself but thankfully Laura was able to give her some love and get her heart calmed down.

When I got there, I gave her a hug and we talked about her first races. I reminded her that she was only swimming against herself, and told her that I wanted her to go out there and swim hard no matter the results. I told her she would do well and to remember that she swam for the glory of God, not for ribbons!

As she got ready to swim, the whole family started cheering for her. (her friend Daniel did too…he is the fastest swimmer in the league probably!) She knew I was there, and one last time I gave her a thumbs up and reminded her to swim hard. The girl before her in the relay had a really tough time, so her team was not in the hunt for a ribbon when her leg began.

She hit the water and I started cheering. Every stroke I let her hear it! And you know what? She swam hard! In fact, she had excellent form and caught up with two other teams on her leg. Afterward she said she could hear the cheering, and felt like that race was her best one of the day and best leg of the year.

What a reminder. If we will only listen to God, if we will only hear his voice, what could we do as well? If we looked to Him and saw Him behind us, cheering us on, what would we do? If we realized that it wasn’t a solo battle, but that we have others cheering us on what could we accomplish in life? As the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:1-3, with our eyes on Jesus and the roar of the crowd of witnesses, how far could we go if we just RACED HARD in the Christian life regardless of where we are in the race?

So what if you are behind the pack? Race hard and see what happens. Who cares if you’ve dogged a lap or two? Seek the encouragement of God and pick up the pace. Hear His heart for you in Psalm 18 and, just like Elizabeth in her last race, do it all for the glory of God.

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