A few months ago I joined a fitness club. In my head I have a picture of myself which is probably twenty years younger, six inches taller and two stone lighter. It bears no relation to reality as I am well aware. I can do nothing about the twenty years younger, or the six inches taller, but I can do something about the two stones lighter! Hence the fitness centre!
When I joined, I was given a red card. It had lots of spaces for recording things. There are six bits of equipment to play on – one mimics the action of climbing stairs and it is hell. For each item of equipment I have to do so many minutes at such and such a speed and record my heart-beat. (A few beats off a heart attack for some of them!). Every so often the instructor looks at the card and all the scores and changes the exercises slightly so that I am always being challenged and a little more effort is required. The things I found hard to do months ago I find much easier now. It is essential each time I go that I collect my red card and not someone else’s!
My friend Kathleen goes to the centre. She is the “six inches taller and two stone lighter” I would like to be, but also ten years older. She has been going a lot longer than me and started off a lot fitter and her card is different from mine. If she picked up my card it would do her no good at all. If I picked up her card – well, we won’t go down that road! Each card is individually made for each person. Each card has been constructed to challenge each individual and to get the best out of them. The fitness instructor would be a bad fitness instructor is he gave me Kathleen’s card and insisted I work from it. He would be a bad instructor if I picked up Kathleen’s card and insisted on working from it and he let me! Kathleen’s card doesn’t meet my needs.
There is a familiar story in the gospels, in Matthew 14. We know it well. It’s the one where Jesus walks on water and Peter joins him, and then sinks. Did you notice that no one else got out of the boat but Peter? No one else could have got out of the boat but Peter. Peter issued a challenge to Jesus – “If it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said to him “Come”. No one else was invited. Only Peter could go, because only Peter had been invited, because only Peter had asked. If any of the others had tried it they would have sunk straight away. When Peter and Jesus finally climbed back into the boat, there were no recriminations to the others that had stayed put. It wasn’t on their red card! If Peter, having issued the challenge, had then stayed put – then he would have lost something.
God has challenges, individual challenges for his people. Don’t expect me to live according to what God is challenging you on. It is not on my red card. Let us not compare ourselves and what we are doing with other people and what they are doing. What God expects from me is going to be different from what he expects from you. I have got different corners to be knocked off to you. My rough edges are not in the same places as yours.
Lot tried to live his life from Abraham’s revelation and it didn’t work. Take time to listen to what God has planned for your life – it is the plan that brings out the best in you. Stick to your own red card and let me stick to mine!
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Melanie, What a time appropriate message and so well stated. We need to walk in the shoes God has prepared for us. Can you just imagine over six billion people trying to walk in the same pair of shoes? Not a pretty sight! If we do what God has planned for us as individuals, we can win this world for Christ!