Sunday, June 5, 2011

Restore, Support, Strengthen, and Establish

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4: 12 - 14, 5: 6 - 11

I got up very early this morning to start my training in cold water. I am participating in Swim Across America, a fund raiser for cancer research in July and will be swimming a mile in the Long Island Sound with a group of many others. I bought a wetsuit for training since the ocean water is still pretty cold. We got up early and onto the beach before anyone was around. I did this on purpose because I really didn't want to have anyone watch me struggle into the suit, let alone try it out for the first time. There was little motivating me except for anxiety. I want to have the endurance to swim the entire mile and I need to start training, but I am very self-conscious about it all. It was just us, our dog and a few mocking seagulls when we got there. Then the dolphins swam by, in their perfectly fitting black sleek suits. I felt encouraged despite my anxiety. With the spire of St. Peter's behind me, I swam in the suit, awkwardly at first, but let myself enjoy the quiet, the muted sunlight and the morning. We are all fragile creatures subject to great anxiety and challenge. This morning I felt the first breath of encouragement, the early nudge of the spirit.

The letter of Peter reminds us that we share in Christ's struggles, and we are tested by people, circumstances and the times, as Christ was. And in this we are blessed, despite how we feel at the moment, despite how unprepared, weak and anxious we might be. God's work for us is always restoration, support, strengthening and establishing. God is always active in the midst of our challenges, and God is always renewing us as we step out in faith.

Today, I ask God to give me the strength to continue to step out in faith and to trust that blessing and strength is there for every day. May we all trust that we are constantly blessed by the Creator's gifts of renewal and support, new muscle, new vigor and a solid foundation. God is always cheering us and supporting us, so may we use our strength and our health for the welfare of others.

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