Let It Start With Me

Not sure about you, but I sure have enjoyed spending a few days focusing on a single verse. I know Paul’s use of an athlete has a special place in many of your hearts, but do you know the rest of the verse? I – for one – would have been fine had Paul stopped right there. “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” Simply incredible. But Paul went a step further.

Speaking of steps, ever witnessed a false start at a track meet? Seeing as we’ve talked about runners lately, false starts are tough to watch. On some of sport’s grandest stages, many of track and field’s top athletes stumble right out of the blocks or worse, they jump the gun — disqualification from a race you’ve trained your entire life for is arguably one of the roughest moments to witness.

If anyone in the bible could attest to rough beginnings and false starts, it was Paul. One of Christianity’s most zealous enemies, Paul approved of the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58). The man whose hands we’ve traced under the light of the lamp was once merciless. But a face-to-face with the Author of mercy Himself changed all that. Following his conversion, Paul carried out his mission in the face of mental and physical hardship the likes of which we have never imagined. His tireless preaching and unparalleled endurance has inspired countless missionaries for 2000 years, not to mention the person typing this sentence and those reading it now.

But despite his false start, Paul would finish our favorite verse by saying, “So that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified.” Why did he discipline himself like an athlete and train himself to do the right thing? Simple. In order to be seen running the same race in the same way he urged others to run. False starts, stumbles, tumbles are no match for the grace of God, but they’re tough to witness and tough on our witness. Truly, Paul pleaded for physical and spiritual discipline not in order to earn grace, but because of the gift of it. He finished strong. Oh for grace, may we all.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: As I was posting today’s entry, I listened to a wonderful song by the group “No Other Name” called Let It Start With Me. img_4948-11The melody roars and the chorus soars with our week’s theme. It’s about going around the world like athletes to win the lost.  If you can, take a listen. If not, just do me a favor. Read it out loud to yourself. Pretty cool. (If it hits you like it hits me, share this entry with your communities.) And when you walk outside into your world, let it start with you. Athlete.

In the Streets of every village
Every city’s soaring tower
Empty people live in darkness
Every minute every hour
Hear the cry of desperation
From a billion broken hearts
With a need so great, where do we even start?

Let it start with me
Open up my eyes
Fill my heart with your compassion
Free my mind from all distractions
Use my hands, to set the captive free
Move my feet to follow after you
Lord change the world and let it start with me

You’ve given us the orders
There’s a place for everyone
I don’t wanna miss my mission
In the plan that you’ve begun
You have promised to go with me
To the edges of it all
And change everything that keeps me from your call
Take my life, all I’ve called my own
Everything I am is Yours alone

Let it start with me
Open up my eyes
Fill my heart with your compassion
Free my mind from all distractions
Use my hands, to set the captive free
Move my feet to follow after you
Lord change the world and let it start with me