Chains and tribulations await me.
...except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:23-24 (NKJV)
I vividly remember standing at the 200m mark waiting for the sports gun to fire. I dug my spikes into the muddy earth to get a good grip for the start of the race. Breathing in and out, standing in the beginners pose, I crouched down with fingertips just touching the ground and waited. “Bang”. The noise made me jump.
Then the sudden realization that I had to run, to fly through the wind and rain, boggy surface, and get to the front to stand a chance of winning. Passing one, then another, and onward around the bend to the 100m mark. Having left a little in reserve, I used this to sprint madly towards the lead runner. Had I done enough? Did I finish the race with joy?
Although I was only nine the first time it happened, I still feel that disappointment of coming second. There was always one girl who beat me in the sports day sprinting event every year. Second was rubbish. Yes, I had finished the race, but I wanted my name engraved on the trophy. I felt I was never quite good enough.
This yearly failure did teach me a humbling lesson though. Life is full of chains and tribulations. We can be bound by our failures or use them as opportunities to grow. I needed to understand that as a Christian we are here to declare the Grace of God not wave around our own personal trophies. I had indeed run a good race but not for God’s glory but for my vanity.
Over the years chains and tribulations have flooded my life. The only way I have found to run the race has been to take each day as it comes. Dealing with what I can on a daily basis. I may not come first or second, and that is alright so long as I have tried through the Grace of God in union with the Holy Spirit to please my Father.
This gives me greater joy than a hand engraved name on a trophy. It sets me free to testify!
Do chains and tribulations prevent you from testifying the joy of the Lord?