Monica loved to think by candlelight. The flickering flame seemed to create the proper mood for pondering the great mysteries of life. Beside her open Bible, spread out in front of her on the desktop, she positioned a piece of paper and a pen.
"But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." She whispered the words aloud as she read.
"I knew it! Wait til I show this to that brother of mine. He thinks his running is the answer to everything. Well, here it is right from God's own Word: 'bodily exercise profiteth little....' "
As she chuckled to herself, her eyes were drawn to the reflection of the candle's flame in the shiny varnished wood. "I wonder how that works, exactly, to 'exercise thyself rather unto godliness.' It must have something to do with running the race..." Monica turned pages in her Bible.
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection...."
She flipped more pages to begin reading again. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
"Hmmm," the glimmering reflection caught her eyes once again as thoughts struggled for attention inside her head. "These passages tell me the 'what,' but not the 'how,' and that's what I need to know.
"How, exactly, do I exercise unto godliness?"
As she gazed into the flame and its mirror image, words began to form in her head. She picked up the pen and began to write: "The flame flickers low..."
How like God's Spirit the candle flame is, she thought.
"the wick nearly spent..."
The wick is like the soul of the candle. The candle is created for one purpose, but it cannot light itself. It can only wait for someone to add the flame. Then, when the candle is spent, and the light goes out, it is a picture of death. Monica could feel a frown wrinkling her eyebrows.
But, she pondered, death isn't like the dark after sunset, because we know when we die we pass from death to life, so it is more like... She wrote:
"Night faces the dawn..."
Yes, that's it! The night of sin and death is swallowed up in victory.
"The Soul sleeps content."
"Jesus said, 'It is finished,' so He could enter His rest, just as God rested on the seventh day." Monica held her chin in one hand as she let these ideas germinate in her mind. Then she continued writing:
"Pale tallow remains, its secrets to keep.
The Soul rests for now, while the pilgrims weep."
Monica sighed. "This is almost a picture of Christ's crucifixion and our mourning for the Bridegroom's return." As more words filled her mind, Monica continued to write:
"The sands in the glass slip silently down..." another picture of death, she thought.
"But hands on the clock need help to be wound..."
That's it! Monica thought. None of us can cook up the 'how' in exercising unto godliness. We cannot do anything to produce godly fitness in ourselves. It is the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, both to call us to faith AND to make good use of us in 'reasonable service!'
"The strings wait the Bow, the Bow waits the band.
And souls wait the cue from the Master's hand...."
As the candle flame flickered low, Monica continued writing, content with the 'how' answer she had uncovered.
1 Timothy 4:7-8
lines quoted from the author's poem "Pilgrims' Song" (a work-in-progress)
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