Ponderings

I love washing my car

I honestly love washing our car. Not that I have the nicest car on the street or that I am the most detailed person when it comes to cleaning the car, but I enjoy seeing my car clean. It stems from my father who always took such pride in the care of his vehicles and his example was an outward expression of the statement, 'If you take care of your car, it will take care of you.'

My family would tell you that it is a bit of a ritual for me that when the weather is clear on a Saturday morning, I will be out in the front yard washing the car.

This past week this routine took on a whole new value to me. I was washing my car in the beautiful autumn sunshine (remember we live on the opposite side of the world) and something interesting began to unfold before me. First, one of the neighbour kids rode by to say hello and asked if our daughter was able to come out to ride around the neighbourhood and then another neighbour stopped to chat. What made this second opportunity unique was that this woman lives in seclusion across the street and rarely acknowledges our family. On this day while I had a soapy sponge in my hand, she was keen to talk. We discussed the changes in the neighbourhood, the growth of our community, the weather and then she asked me more in-depth questions about our family. Then with a smile and a wave, she went on with her day and I went back to getting tree sap off of the car. It was a lovely connection and left me with a smile on my face.

As I progressed around the car, all of a sudden a familiar friend laid a red frisbee at my feet. Another neighbour's border collie looked at me expectantly to throw the toy for him to fetch. As I succumbed to his request, I knew that not too far behind him would be another neighbour. This young husband and future father came over to say G'day and with the same sponge in hand, we had a simple but enjoyable discussion. We talked about his future as a father, the majesty of the country we live in and due to his faith in Christ, we had a great conversation about the blessings we have in the Lord. As we talked about the more significant things of the world, we threw a spit covered ball and a chewed up frisbee for a few minutes and then he headed off to the local park.

Something that stuck with me about the conversation was how this young bloke stated how much he enjoyed just popping over to have a chat. Something we seem to miss out on in amongst the busyness of this modern life.

He is right. Do we take time to reach out to our neighbours? We could be more intentional in reaching out to those who live around us, but have you considered the opportunities that may come about by just being there? Getting out and living in your community and look to see how the Lord will bless you by merely being available to those who live closest to us.

Sure, I was able to incorporate the message of the Bible into my conversations with my neighbours, but I think these discussions were even more meaningful to me than to those people that I had the privilege of conversing with on that day. My car did get cleaned eventually, but more importantly, I saw the value of getting out and living in my community and to watch to see how the Lord will work by just living for Him.

I love washing our car.

 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:36-40

Life lessons from cross-country

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

I look back fondly on my years of high school and university cross-country. There were good days and bad days, but these lessons still impact my life today. Also, being a Christian, I have come to appreciate how running has provided life-lessons and a multitude of sermon analogies.

Top 10 lessons from cross-country

  1. Run despite the weather
  2. You can talk and run at the same time
  3. Value rest
  4. Never run injured
  5. Hills are better than the flat
  6. Stay hydrated
  7. Good shoes make the difference
  8. A bad day running is better than not running at all
  9. Knowing your limits, but pushing ahead anyway
  10. We run individually, but we finish as a team

My daughter asked me the other day, why 1 Corinthians 9:24 is my favourite verse?

I love to run. I have been running for over 30 years. It has provided many great experiences in life and I have been privileged to run in countries all around the world. Just give me a good pair of running shoes, a course to run and I will go see the world. Running through the city streets and the countryside, the runner's perspective of things is an amazing experience. Seeing the sites, experiencing the smells and being amongst the people, regardless of the language and culture barriers, running allows unique access to the world.

The Apostle Paul used a multitude of sporting analogies to share about the work that he was doing sharing the Gospel throughout the world. I do not think he was a runner, but he shared a similar mindset that helped with his rigorous efforts and single minded focus for the spread of God's message. In the words of 1 Corinthians, Paul was not condoning a work based faith, but the willingness to do all that he could with the life that was given to him for the sake of serving God. To the end of his life, or the metaphoric race, he would serve the Lord with all that he had been given.

I cherish the opportunity to run and the many lessons I have learned. But even more, I cherish the grace and mercy  given to me by God. I hope I can utilise the life I have been given to finish the race well and serve Him throughout my life.

Thanks goes out to Coach Chuck Knutsen, the Apostle Paul and Jesus for these lessons.

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 

Written by Russell Matthews @ Matthews Down Under