Hitting the Wall ― The Popeye Syndrome

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day―and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV)

There’s a phrase that runners use to describe what happens to them between the Tired Runnereighteenth and twenty-fifth mile of a marathon. During a marathon, runners often run out of fuel or energy. This takes place when their body exhausts all its carbohydrate fuel and starts burning fat for energy instead. This is commonly called muscle fatigue. When this happens many begin to lag behind in the slow lane instead of going at their usual top speed with the other runners. Sometimes runners get so tired that they feel like they can’t even put one foot in front of the other. This urge to stop running is known as “hitting the wall.” It describes an apparently insurmountable physiological barrier that can stop a runner in his tracks, consuming his will to finish the race.

This can also happen in the Christian race. There are times in your life when you’re racing along at top speed and feel like the world is your oyster and then suddenly… wham! You run smack dab into a wall. The world suddenly begins to fall down around you. Your zeal starts to dwindle. Your joy begins to drain, and peace seems to evade you. It’s then that you find yourself just chugging along in the slow lane of life on the verge of giving up. You’ve hit the wall.

Have you ever been there? I certainly have more than once. Therefore, I am keenly aware of the weariness that one feels when the Enemy unleashes a series of assaults on your world. I know all too well the sensations that one can experience when fear and doubt erupts in one’s heart and mine. I know how it feels when all hell seems to break loose against you and life smacks you senseless. It’s the Popeye Syndrome. You remember what Popeye says when he’s pushed to his limits, “That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!” What do you do when you’ve reached your limits when you “can’t stands no more?” What do you do when you hit the wall?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

God has a race marked out for us. It’s a race that is tailor-made just for each of us. It’s a direction, a course, a calling for our life that’s designed in the heart of a loving God.
In addition, there’s also a wall waiting for us on our course. This wall is an interval in our life when our resources dry up, our energy is spent, and we feel like we can’t go on. Like the marathon runner, we come to an apparently insurmountable physiological barrier. Now, what do we do when this happens? How do we push through our walls?

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

In the original Greek, the words “give up” come from a word that literally means “to be faint, to grow weary, to be enfeebled through exhaustion or to be tired out.” It’s the same word used in Hebrews 12:3, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (NIV)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6 NIV)

Godly perseverance is the key to smashing through that wall. We must keep on… keeping on. But most importantly, we must totally depend on God for the victory. Psalm 18:29 says, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” (NIV)

…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

The “proper time” in the Greek literally means “a fixed and definite time.” 1 There is a crucial time element involved in this race of ours. A harvest is waiting for us on the other side of each wall we encounter. However, it will only be released to us at the precise time that we choose to persevere, push beyond human endurance, and spring forth into spiritual endurance. “We will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Remember the Dr. Seuss story entitled, Horton Hatches the Egg. In the narrative, Mazie was a very lazy bird. She did not like sitting on eggs. It was boring, and she wanted to see the world. So she asked Horton, a somewhat naive elephant, to sit on her egg while she took a vacation. Horton agrees to egg-sit and stays faithful to the task through the autumn, through the icy cold of winter and into the spring.

Then one day some hunters capture Horton and take him―tree, egg and all―to a circus. He doesn’t like being a captive, but Horton’s slogan was “faithful 100%,” so he would not leave the egg. Eventually the egg hatched, and Horton became the happy mother of a bouncing baby bird.

To me, the moral of this classic story is simple. Don’t get off the nest! Stay in the race, no matter how weary you may feel. Don’t give into the temptation to succumb to the pressures of this world. Your harvest is on the other side of that wall. Be persistent. Keep pushing against that wall. Cowboy up! Become like Popeye and stir up that fight that lies deep inside you. You don’t need a can of spinach; you’ve got the power of the Holy Spirit churning inside you. Release it!

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalms 73:26)

It’s not easy pushing through that wall, but anything worthwhile is seldom easy. Remember this when you’re hitting the wall―get your fight up and trust in God to give you the victory. Harvest is on the other side of the wall. So, keep on pushing!

…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

Walk on
Til fear turns to faith and faith becomes sight
Where strength begins
You’ve got to press on
Move on through the pain
move on to the place
Where weakness ends
Where strength begins*

*Where Strength Begins by Phillips, Craig & Dean from album, Where Strength Begins, Copyright/Label: Label: Star Song

 

 

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Slaying Isaac (The Hard Copy)

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

*This is the hard copy for my YouTube video of the same tittle.

Genesis chapter 22 describes one of the hardest days in the life of Abraham. God had personally promised him that he and Sarah were going to have a child, but this wasn’t to be your everyday birth. Embodied in Isaac were more than the joys of parenthood. He also carried the promise and the covenant of Almighty God.

What a delight Isaac must have been to Abraham and Sarah when he came into their lives. Looking into his wrinkled little face thrilled the hearts of those old saints. As Isaac grew, Abraham like most fathers, found the most pleasure out of watching his son grow into a young man. In time Isaac became Abraham treasure and he own the old man’s heart.

Then, one day the unthinkable happened. God told Abraham to do something that filled him with sorrow. Had he heard God correctly? Surely, Abraham misunderstood God’s words. Did God really say, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”? (vs. 2 NIV) However, God’s instructions were unmistakable.

 “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love…”

We can only imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind, the pain and confusion that surely gripped his heart. “Isaac is my heart, my treasure. How could I… How could I be expected to do something so unimaginable?” Yet despite the pain and confusion he was suffering, Abraham knew God. They weren’t just casual acquaintances. They were friends­­, close friends. Therefore, he knew that his friend, God, wouldn’t do anything that might harm him.

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love…”

To Abraham, Isaac was more than his dearly loved son: He was the walking, breathing representation of the covenant between Abraham and God. Would God make such a promise, miraculously present him with a son and then suddenly change His mind?

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love…”

But, LORD, Isaac carries the Seed of the promise and he’s my only son.

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love…”

But LORD, this is my son, the child of the covenant, of the promise… my son!

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love…and slay him.”

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” (John 21:15 NIV)

Is it possible for us to allow something, or someone, to dethrone God in our hearts? Is it possible to let our love and devotion for family and others crowd out our devotion to God? Could we even let the promises that we cling to depose the Promise Giver? Can we allow ministry and the things of the church take God’s rightful place in our hearts? Is it possible for us to become so hyper-religious that we let the things of God replace God, Himself? What’s in your heart?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ⸺Jesus (Luke 12:34 NIV)

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” ⸺Jesus (Matthew 16:25 NIV)

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love… and slay him.”

Are you willing to kill something in order to keep it? Abraham discovered the answer to that question. He found that God didn’t want Abraham’s son; He wanted his heart. He wanted Abraham to return Him to his rightful place⸺the throne of his heart. This was Abraham’s test. Isaac had dethroned God from his father’s heart. Abraham was forced to ask the question. “Who does my heart belong to, the son of the promise or the Promise Giver?”

“Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” ⸺Jesus (Revelations 2:4 NIV)

Sooner or later every believer is faced with this decision. Will we let the pressures of life, such as careers, family, finances and even church activities, become an Isaac that invades our heart threatening to displace our “first love”? Great reward awaits those who are willing to slay their Isaacs. Blessings immeasurable belong to those who will give God their dearest treasures. Yes, He will bless those who are willing give up that which they love best and allow God top priority in their lives.

Look at God’s response to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his very best. “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you…”  (Genesis 22: 16-17 NIV)

Do you have an Isaac setting on the throne of your heart? What is eating up your energy and controlling your thought-life? What or whom is consuming your strength, your joy, your peace? Whatever it is, that’s your Isaac. What’s yours? Is it climbing the corporate ladder? Is it obsessing with family or financial problems? What consumes your mind and heart? What are you withholding from the God of Abraham? That’s your Isaac!

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love… and slay him.”

Don’t you think that it’s time for you to gather the wood, build an altar and slay your Isaacs? Mark this: Obedience in the face of great loss will bring an abundance of blessings and an authority never before imagined.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” ⸺Jesus (Matthew 6:24 NIV)

 

 

 

by Rod Davis

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” — Jesus (Luke 4:18-19)

Once again you stepped outside                                                                                                              your fortress safe and strong                                                                                                                  and took a chance on loving again                                                                                                          risking more heartache and wrong.

You tried your best to touch someone                                                                                                            to show them you care.                                                                                                                               You gave your all, expressing love                                                                                                                   and laid your spirit bare.

You opened wide your arms of trust                                                                                                        exposing a heart oft abused                                                                                                                          by those who knew little in life                                                                                                              but using and being used.

Hurt, once again you retreat inside                                                                                                               your fortress safe and strong                                                                                                                     and reinforce the battlements                                                                                                                and hide with drawbridge drawn.

Construction seems to never end

as stone is laid on stone.

The walls mount high hiding your pain,

huge walls that you build alone.

But what you use to build your nest

of high and hulking walls

are stones not made of wood or clay,

nor made of rock at all.

The fabric of each bulking stone

you carefully set in place

is made of broken promises,

of tears that stained your face.

The enormous sense of loss you felt,

the investing of yourself,

the kind and honest love you gave

until there was little left

was sadly unheeded and cast aside,

leaving you drained and burned.

You gave your best, your greatest gift,

only to see it spurned.

So, stones of hurt and bitterness

are mounted side by side.

Your fortress seems unscaleable,

as deep inside you hide.

You think, “I’m safe from harm in here

behind my castle walls.

I’ve made sure they can’t be climbed

for I built them wide and tall.”

But, my friend, what you don’t see,

what’s cleverly hidden from view;

These walls were made by someone else.

Your fortress not built by you

No, you were not the architect.

It wasn’t your design,

but simply part of a deadly scheme

conspired in another’s mind.

A twisted and demented soul

devised an evil ploy

to do what he has always done

to rob, to kill and destroy.

These lofty walls don’t make a fort

or refuse where you hide.

Their purpose not to keep pain out

but keep you locked inside.

You’re not alone in this prison veiled

for others are fastened away

behind gray walls of bitterness

where many of them will stay

Locked in by thoughts of hopelessness,

with a warden brutal and cruel

who holds no mercy in his heart

for all those under his rule.

This dungeon cell where they abide

is dark and sad and cold.

Though it may seem safe inside

no freedom does it hold.

But Jesus came to storm those walls,

to set the captive free[1],

to give you life with all its best

blessed with love and liberty[2].

And though at times it hurts to love,

for loving off times brings pain.

We have God’s promise ever sure,

“No labor of love is in vain.” [3]

Only by loving are we most like God[4],

which should be our deepest desire.

It may mean risks, exposing our heart,

but measureless the gain that is ours.

Love, like a muscle, strengthens with use

“No pain, No gain.” We are told.

For only when we empty ourselves

is there room for the treasures love holds.

Choosing to trust still bids risks

when you’ve made the commitment to love,

but the untold gain of loving like God

is forever established above.

For love in motion gives substance to faith;

thus, “faith without works is dead.”[5]

To know why this “love never fails”

our love and our faith must be wed.

As two become one on their wedding night,

and their union produces new life.

So, love in action consummates faith;

bearing fruit like a husband and wife.[6]

Faith expressing itself through love

is the only thing that counts.[7]

For love with legs completes our faith,

and its power floods in like a fount.

There’s no need to build ugly walls.

Let’s pull all the strongholds down,

demolishing fear and every pretense

that tries to usurp the crown[8]

that belongs only to our awesome God

and the truth of victory He’s won.

We endeavor to place every thought

in obedience to His Son.[9]

Are they walls of a fort or a prison strong?

Do you see they are one in the same?

If a refuge you need there’s one to be found

the strong tower of His great name.[10]

So, don’t be afraid to reach out again.

Continue to sow and be sure

God’s promise’s true. Love’s harvest is yours.

You’ll reap if you choose to endure.[11]

As you freely give, you’ll freely receive,

when with love you respond to God’s call.

Love’s sweet pleasures you’ll reap with great joy,

as you bid glad farewell to The Walls.

[1] John 8:3 (NIV on all references)

[2] John 10:10

[3] 1Corinthians 15:58

[4] Ephesians 5:1

[5] James 2:20

[6] Ephesians 5:9

[7] Galatians 5:6

[8] Hebrews 2:9

[9] 2Corinthians 10:5

[10] Psalms 106:8

[11] Galatians 6:9

“O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” (Ezekiel 37:3)
“There’s a place in our walk with the Lord where we must make a decision to submit to the sovereign hand of God even when we don’t have any real answers.                                                                                                                                                                                             What does God see when He looks at our circumstances?
He doesn’t see ruin. He sees revival.
He doesn’t see pestilence. He sees potential.
He doesn’t see death. He sees destiny.
He doesn’t see our falls. He sees our get-ups.” — The Mad Preacher

Misfits in the Bible

This is from the new book that I’m writing:

When I think that God can’t use a screw-up like me I remember this:

Adam and Eve would not admit personal blame for their sin. Adam accused Eve and Eve accused the Serpent. (Genesis 3:12)

Eve, the first woman, was easily deceived and couldn’t control her appetite. (Genesis 3:6)

Noah, the last righteous man on earth at the time, was found drunk and sleeping in the nude. (Genesis 9:20-21)

Abraham, the forefather of the faithful, out of fear let other men have their way with his wife on two different occasions. (Genesis 12 and 20)

Sarah, the most gorgeous woman by popular opinion, told her husband to sleep with another woman and then hated her when he did it. (Genesis 16)

Lot offered his two young daughters to a gang of rapists. (Genesis 19)

Job, the epitome of faith, had to deal with a nagging wife. (Job 2:9)

Isaac, who was nearly killed by his father, talked his wife into concealing their marriage. (Genesis 26)

Rebekah was a manipulative wife. (Genesis 27)

Jacob, who wrestled with God, was a big liar. (Genesis 25, 27, 30)

Rachel was a thief who stole her father’s property before running off with her husband. (Genesis 31:19)

Reuben, the pride and firstborn of his dad, Jacob, had an affair with his father’s mistress. (Genesis 35:21)

Moses was the first man to break the Ten Commandments. In rage he threw the tablets down breaking them into little pieces. (Exodus 2, 32:19; Numbers 20:11)

Aaron, the first High Priest who witnessed the power of God through the 10 plagues that devastated Egypt, made an idol for God’s chosen people to worship while Moses was away. (Exodus 32)

Miriam, the songwriter and Moses’ sister, was hungry for power and plotted with Aaron against Moses. (Numbers 12)

Samson, the strongest man who ever lived was literally blinded by love. He became entangled with an adulterous woman whom he allowed to emasculate him. He ended up a blinded prisoner of his enemies and eventually ended his own life. (Judges 16)

Saul, the first king of Israel, lost his marbles. He was apparently psychotic and had manic bursts of anger. He attempted repeatedly murder. He had bouts with deep depression and paranoia. He died in the mist of defeat by falling on his own sward. (1Samuel 16, 18, 19, 31)

David, the great king and psalmist, committed adultery with one of his closest friend’s wife and then had him murdered to cover it up. (2 Samuel 11)

Solomon, the wisest man in the world, had sex with 1,000’s of women. (1 Kings 11) He was also one of the wealthiest men in the world. Yet in later life he concluded that “Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1)

Hosea struggled with the pain of having an unfaithful wife who prostituted herself. This prophet, even as they spoke for God, struggled with impurity, depression, unfaithful spouses, broken families and overwhelming feelings of inadequacies. (Hosea Chapters 1) [i]

Finally, the great Apostle Paul faced a brutal struggle temptation. He said, “I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t.” (Romans 7:18) [ii]

So the next you feel like you’re not good enough for God’s use think about these great men and women of God. Despite all their failings God still used them to shake the foundations of the world and he will the same with you.

[i] Inspired by an article from Sermon Central written by Ron Forseth (https://www.sermoncentral.com/pastors-preaching-articles/ron-forseth-20+-messed-up-bible-heroes-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them-1613#  Copyright © 2003-2017 | Outreach, Inc.) On 8-28-17. I did some rewriting and added some of my own insights.

[ii] The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.