8/27/19 – Pastor Brian’s Blog
My very own first “business” was delivering the Grit Newspaper every Saturday on my vehicle of choice: a Schwinn Stingray bicycle. The paper sold for 25 cents and I made 5 cents on every sale, and believe it or not, I was happy with that! During the summer, in order to make that 5 cents on every paper, I would have to ride my bike from our camp on the lake into town which was probably a 7 or 8 mile ride. I can still remember this long steep hill that was a real bear to climb on my way home, but coming into town, it was a real breeze because I got to coast down the hill.
There was this time that coasting actually saved my life! (Well, not really.) Judy, me, and our kids were returning home from speaking somewhere and the gas gauge was close to E. Judy begins to “encourage” me to stop and get some gas. We did not have a lot of money at the time, so I was looking to save a few pennies on gas, so I decided to ignore Judy’s “encouragement” and continue driving.
It wasn’t long before I saw the light come on, indicating that I have only a few miles left in the gas tank. Judy, also seeing the light, continues to “encourage” me with a little more intensity! By this point we are out in the country, we haven’t seen a gas station for miles, and my car starts to sputter. Judy is no longer “encouraging” me, she has decided to elevate her emotions. As the car stops running, I push in the clutch and we coast down this hill right into a gas station. Although I had passed many gas stations with much cheaper gas, at that moment I didn’t care!!
My youngest sister Michele sent me a link this week of her son preaching a message at his church where he is the minister of music. In his message he made this statement, “You can only coast downhill.” And I thought “duh,” how come I never noticed that!? Yes it is such a simple statement but such a profound meaning.
Coasting can be a good thing if you are coasting on your bike or coasting into a gas station when you run out of gas. But coasting in life, whether it is physically or spiritually, tends to be a bad thing.
I’ve been playing softball for the past 50 years. As I have gotten older, I’ve haven’t practiced much, and I have exercised even less to play this game of softball. I have been kind of coasting expecting the same results. Now all of a sudden because I have coasted and not worked at staying in shape, I don’t have the same range I used to have and my eye and catching coordination is not what it used to be. Matter of fact one of my teammates says that “I have deceptive speed; I am much slower than I look!” Of course some of it is age, but much of it is because I have coasted and did not work on the things I should have been working on.
Coasting can even have a more devastating effect on our spiritual life. For me, coasting is thinking I do not need to spend time with God before I start my day, or I find myself making decisions without even considering God in them at all. I am not talking about just the big decisions but all my decisions!
For you it might look different; your coasting may have stopped you from reading good Christian books, it may have you thinking that you don’t need to be involved in a Bible study or you are good without an accountability person in your life. Coasting for you might be an attitude about church attendance is that you can take it or leave it. Coasting may have convinced you that you already know enough about the Bible so that you no longer memorize scripture.
As I think about coasting in my physical and spiritual life, my mind goes back to what my nephew said: “You can only coast downhill,” and coasting downhill in your spiritual life is never a good thing. So what is the antidote for coasting? Well it not having a debate with yourself, nor is it reasoning with yourself. It comes down to a matter of your will.
Paul said… No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27
Paul says I will not allow myself to be controlled by my life, I will control my life. When I allow my spiritual life to coast, many, if not all of my spiritual disciplines suffer. How I spend my time, the thoughts I think, the things I say, my attitude, how I treat others are all affected by what I allow to control me.
Although few of us actually like being disciplined or to “beat my body,” I was a much better biker, not because of the hills I coasted down, but because of the hills I had to push myself to get up. I was a much better softball player when I worked at it, than I am now when I just coast. And when I choose to take control of my life, when I beat my ungodly choices into Godly choices, not only am I better for it, so is everyone that is in my life.
Don’t allow yourself to be disqualified for the prize, instead choose not to coast. Why? You can only coast downhill. Duh!!