Summary: How to deal with weariness and discouragement-using Elijah as an example the process of renewal is discussed.
Getting that Second Wind
(Fifty Days of Consecration #8)
How many of you know what it means for a runner to get his second wind? I’m not enough of a runner to know much about the experience first hand. But I’m told that there comes a point when the runner feels like giving up and if he will press on he will get a fresh surge of energy and be able to finish the race well. There are certainly times in our service to the Lord when we need to get a second wind. There are times when we need a fresh empowerment for the race that is before us. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and to run the race marked out for us (the race God has designed for you personally) with perseverance. Have you found that it takes some perseverance to do this thing over the long run? What does the race involve? How do we run it with perseverance? The next verse in Hebrews 12:2 gives some of the answer, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus ….” Distractions can throw us off stride in this race. A wise runner will not look to the left or right. He will not look at the other runners. He will set his eyes on the finish line and go for it with all his might. Jesus is the prize and He is the model—the pace-setter for all that we do. An essential key to running well is staying focused upon Jesus.
This morning we will talk about how to get your second wind in ministry. I will only briefly touch upon the devotional exercises of the week. They provide the foundation for what I want to share. The devotional material calls for a servant’s heart (a mindset quite different from that which prevails in the world). Psalm 100 tells us to “Serve the Lord with gladness.” There is the danger that we would begin this race with great enthusiasm and joy—but at some point the gladness becomes sadness. The joy is replaced by duty and drudgery. The vision that set us on the race gets replaced by the responsibility to simply continue the race. Right before a runner gets his second wind he is tempted to give out and give up. He has to press through that wall and break through to another level. The breakthrough is sort of a revival for the runner.
Before I get into the heart of this message I do want to drive home one essential truth that was in our devotional: To serve the Lord is to serve others. The service may be like that of the prophetess, Anna, in Luke 2. It may center on prayer and fasting and worship. But it never ends without doing something helpful to others. It is hard for us to estimate the value of Anna’s ministry to Joseph and Mary. Surely they were encouraged in the task God had given them when Anna prophesied concerning the child, Jesus. Her words to the faithful remnant in Jerusalem were part of God’s program for the revelation of Jesus as Messiah. Service is not restricted to those activities that we normally associate with the word. However, the heart of God is always directed toward the pain and needs of humanity—and when I say humanity I mean one person at a time. The Father cares about every hair of every individual. Jesus touched the individual leper and brought healing. Virtue flowed out of Him to that one woman with the issue of blood. What individual stands near you in need of help? Jesus was on His way to do something important when He encounter blind Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46). The need is usually encountered while we are on our way to do something we consider important. But Jesus stopped to relieve the suffering this man was experiencing.
Empowerment by the Holy Spirit is never designed to end with our own enjoyment. “Freely you have received; freely give.” The flow of the Spirit is not to be entrapped in my own selfishness and become a stagnant pool. It is to flow in me and through me so that I am not only blessed but I become a channel of blessing to others. The key word for the power of God’s Spirit in your life and my life is the word “others”. “In as much (Jesus said in one of His parables) as you did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me (Matt. 25:40).” The flow of God’s Spirit always dries up when people use it for their own enjoyment alone. Right before he died on August 20, 1912 William Booth sent forth his final message through a telegram to the Salvation Army officers world-wide. The message consisted of only one word: “others”. If we want God to pour out His Spirit in our lives, our thinking must resound with that word “others”. Holy Spirit empowerment is for the sake of serving the needs of “others”. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." The Holy Spirit is given to empower you and me to be a witness of Jesus Christ in word and in deed.