As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer
Friday 15th May
‘Know your why!’
Recently I attended a webcast given by a highly accomplished athlete, who has won many races at home and abroad. His preferred event was 10,000 metres (or 6.2 miles in old money.) The first logged time and distance records in Scotland date back to 1886, with the six-mile record standing at 32 minutes 12 seconds. Even today that is still an impressive time. The current Scottish record holders for 10,000 metres (outdoor) are Ian Stewart who back in 1977 set a time of 27.43.03 & Liz McGolgan who in 1991 set a time of 30:57.07. To say my personal best is nowhere near these times is a slight understatement. But on a good day, providing there are not too many hills or a strong head wind, I can still manage 10K in under an hour. Just.
The title of the webcast was ‘motivation’ and included the question, ‘Know your why?’ The question, when applied to running, seeks to clarify the purpose of why people run. Is it to compete at high level, to place yourself against other highly gifted and motivated runners and to be the best? Or is it about more individual goals, like competing against yourself to achieving a new personal best? My motivation for running is purely recreational. I do not have the time, ability or inclination to be competitive. I have only ever won one race (in my age category) and it came as a big surprise. Whilst it is immensely satisfying to achieve a new personal best, that is not my main focus. I do it because I enjoy it. (This will not stop me training hard and pushing myself to get a good time in the London Marathon!)
There are of course many other benefits. I enjoy the sense of personal well-being that comes with being fit. Not sure I can explain it, but running makes me feel more alive. I enjoy the social aspect of being part of a running club and participating in events. A few years ago, I became a jogleader with Jogscotland and found further pleasure in introducing others to running.. I remember one evening a couple of years ago as jogleader leader, encouraging a group of eight runners to complete their first ever 5K. Many of them never thought it would possible – but they did it. Since then I have become a Junior or children’s jogleader and last year was involved with Aberdeenshire Council Active Schools. I have also become a qualified fitness instructor and now run my own class
To the question, ‘Know your why?’ I can provide a simple answer. I go running, or lead a jogging group or a fitness class because I enjoy it. That is the reason for my motivation. My goals are very focussed and specific. In fact, observing progress in others – especially when enthusiasm takes root - is far more satisfying that a new personal best at 10k, half or full marathon!
1 John 4: 7-21
‘God’s Love and Ours’
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The question, ‘What is your why?’ can be applied to all manner of situations. Buisness and career, marriage and partnerships etc., can all be enhanced when we understand the source of our motivation. But what about faith and spirituality? What is it that we are looking for? Is it personal quest for inner fulfilment? Are we seeking answers to the big questions of life and reassurance about eternity? And what about religion? Whether you are a seasoned saint, a curious sceptic or taking your first baby steps on your spiritual journey, what is your why? What is the source of your motivation? What is it you are looking for? Within an authentic understanding of the Christian faith there can be only one answer.
The apostle John in his second letter 4:19 provides the answer. In a sentence containing six words with the longest word having a mere 2 syllables, the answer according to John is love.
19’ We love because he first loved us’
Note what is being said in that verse, especially the direction of travel. God loved us first. The motivation behind all genuine faith and religion begins with God’s love for us. Not what we have done. Not what we are going to do. Not our seeking or spiritual searching. It begins with God’s love for us. If we take this seriously, it means that religion is our response to love.
Note what Charles Wesley writes in the opening verse his majestic hymn ‘Love Divine’ Like the verse from 1 John 4 note the direction of travel – of where the love is coming from. This is our starting point – the answer to the question ‘What is your why?’
Love Divine, all Loves excelling,
Joy of Heaven to Earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble Dwelling,
All thy faithful Mercies crown;
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church
One contemporary Christian writer, David Sorensen, makes this comment
Many of us think we need to earn God’s love, by becoming perfect christians first. But I ask you, in the precious name of Jesus: stop trying to earn God’s love. He loved you, long before you were even born! He knew you before you knew Him! God is love and He is eternal, so His love for you was already burning with incredible intensity, long before you ever existed…
I encourage you to stop trying to earn that which is freely given and waiting for you to start receiving and enjoying it with all your heart. Relax in His eternal arms of comfort and compassion. Find rest in Him, who knows all about you and who says:
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’ (Jeremiah 31:3)
When you learn to trust His love, you will grow stronger and develop faith. His love is the core foundation of our relationship with Him. Let God’s love fill your heart. It’s the reason of your existence.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in our comfort,
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For all whose day starts with anxiety,
as they leave the security of home
worrying about the risk of infection;
particularly those whose health
or age classifies them as vulnerable.
Loving God, be close, keep them safe,
along with all whose tasks today
includes the care of frail and elderly.
And for all of us, grant wisdom
to make sensible choices, not just
for ourselves, but for everybody.
Help us to put aside
about other people,
because that alters
and simply accept
that they, like us,
are precious in your eyes.
Loving God, we give thanks
for the extended family
of local communities
assisting with the needs
of both frail and elderly
confined to their homes.
May every gift of love,
every encouraging word,
bring hope into lonely lives
and a blessing to the giver.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and forever.
May the Father’s hand
keep you from stumbling,
the footprints of Jesus
give you confidence to follow,
and the fire of the Spirit
keep you warm and safe
in your walk with God this day.
Great is Thy faithfulness