I’ve been in church my entire life. My parents faithfully brought me every chance they got. Sunday mornings. Sunday nights. Wednesday nights. And trust me, there were times when I didn’t want to go. But that never made a difference. I was saturated in the Bible from birth. The local church was the centerpiece of my childhood. And now, at 20 years old, I’m incredibly thankful to have that story.
I’m more in love with the local church today than I’ve ever been. I realize the importance of the local church like never before. Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Duh, Isaiah. Of course you love the local church. You’re a minister!” That’s true. And maybe I’m slightly biased. But I wholeheartedly believe in the power of the local church. Maybe because the local church has shaped me into the person I am today.
It was like being caught in a whirlwind. Shaken to the core. Reminded of what matters most. Stepping upon stones. On an unknown sea. And clinging to Christ through it all.
That’s what 2019 felt like to me.
Can you relate? Another year has come and gone. Like a tornado rustling through a village. And you’re trying to understand what’s left of it. Rummaging through debris. Picking up the pieces. Much has taken place. Some good stuff. Some bad stuff. Some stuff you’re still unsure about. As you walk into 2020 with a strange mixture of excitement and fear.
In Psalm 73, the author contemplates whether or not he should be like those who disobey God. After all, he writes, “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind” (v. 3-5 ESV).
The psalmist finds himself examining the lives of the ungodly. And what an easier life it seems to be. One in which the ways of God are rejected. The desires of the flesh fulfilled. The riches of the world consumed.
In fact, the psalmist continues, “Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence” (v. 12-13 ESV).
In the words of John Newton’s 1779 hymn, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”
This story never gets old. Not because it’s the most popular Christian hymn. Not because your church sings it every Sunday. Rather, it’s the story of redemption. And for those of us who belong to Him, it’s the “… light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4 ESV).
Jogging is one of my favorite pastimes. Headphones on ears. Music higher than it should be. And something to track my mileage. Now, like most things, there’s an app for that. Samsung Health is my go-to.
But it’s difficult to use an app for the amount of distance I run. Anywhere between three to seven miles. And since I’m on the road for at least thirty minutes at a time, it’s inconvenient. Why? Because I’m unlocking my phone to view my current pace, distance, and time while simultaneously running.
Until last Monday. That’s when I turned on my Fitbit Surge for the first time in over a year.