By Rhoda Klein Miller
Which do you prefer: individual or team sports? Would you rather play singles badminton or full court volleyball? Rent a solo kayak or jump into a white water raft with others? Choose the solitude of the golf course or the shouts of the soccer field? For performance-driven athletes, individual sports demand a higher level of self discipline and team sports require a greater degree of commitment to each other. While we didn’t get to witness the Summer Olympics this year, I found a good dose of inspiration by watching the “World’s Toughest Race” hosted by Bear Grylls. This eco-challenge had teams of four paddling, trekking, biking, and their way through the ocean, jungles and highlands of Fiji. The 671 km route had to be completed within 11 days. Team Canada Adventure finished second in just 143 hours. Without the support of their teammates many incredibly skilled and fit competitors would not have been able to get as far as they did, or even complete the course. Even the team of Ironman Triathletes said they couldn’t have done it alone. This got me thinking how our spiritual journey is both an individual pursuit and a team effort. Before this grueling race began Grylls’ pep talk included a warning to expect suffering and pain along the way. Teams would need each other’s support to push through. This echoed the wisdom of Ecc. 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Our surrender and salvation is a personal choice but motivation and perseverance in following Jesus’ way is bolstered by the victory of those who have gone before and walk alongside us now. We are strengthened and accomplish more as we cooperate in the fight against evil. The leader of the New Zealand team that beat the Canadians challenged everyone watching to identify and conquer their own “toughest race”. I think the toughest race is enduring our spiritual battles; the competition between self-serving and sacrificial choices, lust or love, profanity or prayer, our will or worship. The good news is that we are not alone in the struggle. Jesus had his team and support group. Who is in yours? You can access great worship music or Bible study content online but make sure you also find real connection with other believers. We’d love to see everyone supported in discipleship groups this Fall. Visit oacvancouver.ca/arise to sign up.
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