As this column is being written, the author’s left wrist is sprained, right arm cannot be lifted above the shoulder without great discomfort, and left leg is healing from abrasions and cuts, and is stiff and sore.
“What happened?” you ask. “Were you in an automobile wreck? Did you stumble down a mountainside? Were you attacked by thieves?” No, the simple (and embarrassing) answer is, “I was playing softball.”
This 59-year-old, slightly overweight (OK, maybe that was a bit of a stretch), out of shape pastor, received a painful reminder that AARP members aren’t able to do what they used to be able to do 40 years ago. The passion is still there. The desire to win is still there. But the muscle tone and control, the speed and the strength somewhere along the line, went AWOL.
Jesus said to His disciples one evening, after He had instructed them to pray for a while, only to later find them sleeping, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” INDEED the spirit is willing! Certainly we know that we should pray. Without doubt, our performance of prayer has not equaled our good intentions and our desire to pray.
There’s a willingness to pray – just not enough discipline to cast aside other very important things (like TV, Facebook, and that extra hour of sleep) so that prayer isn’t crowded out of our lives. Most believers would agree that they should be praying more, but they just don’t have the time. In other words, their spirit or mind is willing, but to make the flesh (the body) actually perform what is desired – that’s where the problem is.
When it comes to physical performance, we’re well aware of our limitations. As the body ages, strength and quickness vanish. That’s why there are not many 40-year-old professional athletes – they simply cannot compete any longer with their younger, stronger counterparts.
When it comes to the spiritual, it’s a totally different matter. The believer who has over the years developed the discipline of prayer, one who has experienced the words of the great hymn, “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own,” this person is strong indeed in the Lord because of his/her prayer life. And it doesn’t really matter how weak the body may get; there’s a vibrancy there that can’t be denied.
Maybe that’s why the Bible says, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17)
If you would like to suggest a topic, please email PastorRonB1@gmail.com.
Ron Brisson has been in ministry for 35 years, including the past 18 as Lead Pastor of New Life Church in Rolesville.