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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (ESV).
There’s a principle in distance running: Refuel before you feel like you need it.
The basic idea is if you wait until your body shows signs of need, it’s too late. By refueling well and often, you ensure finishing strong.
But anyone who has run long enough distances to require refueling will tell you it isn’t convenient. Often you must slow down, make sure you have water accessible when you refuel, and at times you have to stop briefly. It is inconvenient and disruptive, especially with the race clock ticking. But fueling properly helps in unseen ways: It gives the body the energy needed for the next stretch, provides nutrients to prevent cramping, and helps push through difficult stretches.
Similarly, we have refueling practices in our spiritual lives. Times of daily devotion and occasional personal retreats serve as refreshing and equipping times in our spiritual walk. Time spent with Jesus shapes our character, confronts sin, and assures us of His faithful presence. Fueled by God’s grace and compassion, we are empowered by God’s Spirit and sent out into our day to be ambassadors for His Kingdom.
As the beginning of the school year approaches, it signals a busy time in our calendars. And even now with all the prep and limited time, it can become tempting to skip our personal devotion time in honor of “getting more done.” But just as runners refuel for the miles ahead, so should we refuel daily in our abiding time with Jesus to ensure that we can go the distance.
The end of summer is like being on the slow up-hill of a roller coaster. With every “click” we are one moment closer to the rush and momentum. But while the “must do” list awaits, I challenge you to set aside some uninterrupted time (longer than usual) to just be with Jesus. The temptation of ministry is to claim all the successes and failures as our own in a way that ties our worth to perceived performance. What better way to pre-emptively combat that temptation than to take a day personal retreat to delight in Jesus? Don’t know where to start? Chi Alpha has a free booklet on personal retreats.
Plan for Refueling
Most distance runners will plan before the race when to refuel. We must do the same as we look to the busy time of the fall semester. Plan for a time each day now—before the calendar is set—and commit to spending that time with Jesus. Choose a reading plan now so that it’s one less decision to make in the fall. Cultivate the habit now, during the summer, so it is already established before new student welcome comes storming in like a caffeinated bull. What practices can we build in our staff teams to spur one another on in the consistency of daily devotion? Planning now before the hectic fall calendar sets in helps us keep the habit of refueling well and often. Based on previous years’ experience, what could your consistent devotional time during Fall Start Up look like?
Refueling and Others
If we set out committed to prioritize our personal devotional time, we not only do the work of spiritual self-care, but we also set an example for others to adopt. As ministers, we invest in others on a daily basis and it can be difficult to tell early enough when we have neglected our daily time too often. Much like running, we should cultivate the habit of refueling well and often before we feel like we need it, lest we wait too long. We must be diligent to allow Jesus to refill us and wise in prioritizing our consistent need for Him. What daily practices can we adopt or strengthen to deepen our awareness of Jesus?
Let’s cultivate the discipline of committing to daily time in the Word that we may disciple others faithfully, be shaped by the Spirit of God, and run the race well.