You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
Have you been following the Olympic Games at Rio? I must confess that I have never been much of a sportsman. I did compete in a few cycle road races many years ago but the cycle was mainly a means of getting to school and later to work but more especially for exploring the countryside. However, I do have a sneaking admiration for those who are prepared to devote so much time, energy and single-mindedness to their chosen sport in an effort to become Olympic champions. How many times have they hit a brick wall, the pain barrier through which it seems impossible to break? Also no doubt they have been disappointed by missing out on a prize by a few seconds; or maybe suffered an injury which seems to put their whole project in jeopardy. But standing on the top step of the Olympic podium to receive a gold medal will make it all worthwhile.
Life can seem like an Olympic struggle. We spend so much time and energy on the day to day affairs of life; rushing headlong into things which we think we need to be doing. Sometimes though we feel we can sit back and relax because we have everything planned out; we just need to acquire this next pay grade or the new house being built round the corner. Then the unexpected happens, everything comes crashing down around our ears. We hit a brick wall and like the Olympic hopeful we are back to square one; simply because our plans do not coincide with God’s plans for us. Death may seem the ultimate brick wall and yet God has laid out the path we are to follow – the training schedule if you like - which is set out in Psalm 25:4b-5a: Teach me your paths, my God, guide me in your truth. If we do follow that path we will receive a prize more valuable than any Olympic medal for as verse 4 of Psalm 23 says: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Our path leads us through the valley of death, there is no brick wall at the end of it; it opens into a new and better life, a life with God.
Let us pray for the guidance and the strength of the Holy Spirit so that we may say as St Paul said:
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years