Tuesday, March 31 2020
I have counted 18 days since the Corona-cation started. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of April’s 30 (more) days of social distancing. This is going to be a marathon more than a sprint – which means endurance is more important than speed.
So, the word for the day is “hupomone” (long vowel sounds on all the vowels with the last a long A sound). It is translated persevere, endure, be patient. It is used by Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and John. Ancient monks repeated it to themselves when undergoing various temptations.
In Romans 5, Paul writes, “And not only this, but we also boast in our tribulations, knowing that this tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out on our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
This is a bold statement – Paul says we can brag about our pressures, troubles, and sufferings because of what they can produce in us – endurance or passionate patience. This stick-to-it-tive-ness “forges the tempered steel of virtue” in us – we become the kind of people who do good, true, right, and loving things. This strengthening character produces an invincible hope that is rooted not in people, events or circumstances but in the love of God – which he refers to in vs. 2 as the “grace I which we stand.” This hope will not leave us disappointed or ashamed! Everyone and everything in this world will give us everything it can and nothing more – and we will be disappointed. All of our efforts will end in futility and shame. But hope is the shame changer!
The most beautiful part – this hope is the love of God pouring over us like a rainstorm through the Holy Spirit. We are brought into, washed over and filled with the incredible love of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is in the pressure of suffering that we ultimately come to know and experience God on the highest levels and in the deepest ways.
Nobody likes conditioning for sports, or playing scales for music, or doing homework for class. These are the things we need to do in order to be able to perform on the field, on the stage, or in the classroom. A few years from now, we will look back on these days and have a story to tell. Don’t we want to be able to talk about the good that came out of it? Wouldn’t one of the best things we could say is that we got in shape spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically?
So how can we train spiritually to meet the demands of the coming month and beyond? For some of us, a challenge may help. So here is a 30/30/30 challenge = 30 minutes a day reading Scripture and praying + 30 minutes of exercise or activity + for 30 days. For some of us, this is habit; for others, this may be new.
I am trying not to be too prescriptive – pray as you can and not as you can’t (think C.S. Lewis said that but not sure). I suggest starting in the New Testament – the Gospel of Mark and then the Letter to the Romans. Spend 15-20 minutes reading and reflecting on 1 chapter. Spend the rest of your time praying. I like to pray while I exercise – it takes some focus but it can be done!
If you miss a day, don’t quit but play a little catch up. All of this serves to help us process all that is going on around us and in us in healthy ways. If you would like some help with this, I would love to have that conversation with you!
Live-Stream – Sunday at 9:30 at https://wpcspartanburg.org/live. Past services are also available.
Something for your viewing pleasure – beautiful song and video a friend sent from Australia. https://vimeo.com/315044255.