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"The Second Wind"

People need to hear that there is help available to get through the trials and uncertainties of our time. We have a power within us that allows us to perform marvelous deeds. When we have “maxed out” our credit line of giving and caring, the Holy Spirit empowers us to go that second mile. If you, have it in you, then let it out

The new, young pastor was standing at the door shaking hands and greeting people following the worship service. Among the worshipers that day was a retired minister well known for his preaching ability. The young pastor was anxious to hear what the experienced man would have to say about his sermon. As he grabbed his hand, the old preacher said, “Son, that was a mighty fine sermon you preached.”

Trying not to show his exuberant satisfaction with his own work, the young pastor humbly replied, “Oh, it wasn’t me, it was the Holy Spirit.”

The old man looked him in the eye and said, “It wasn’t that good.”

Do you have it in you?

Anyone who has ever run a race or climbed a mountain knows what it’s like to have “it.” They also know what it is to not have it. The “it” that I’m talking about is that something hidden inside of you that comes out when you need it. In a 100-meter dash, it’s that something that makes your legs move faster when you don’t think it’s possible to go any faster. In mountain climbing, it’s that something that pushes you over the top when your body just wants to go back down.

You’re coming around that far turn on the last lap of the race and there are still two people ahead of you. You feel the fatigue. The cinders from their cleats hit you in the face. You push yourself; you huff and puff and feel the pain in your legs and in your side. You don’t think you can go on, but your legs keep moving and you keep pace with the others as though you are connected. Then suddenly, a burst of energy comes from deep within you. It’s almost like someone else is carrying you along. You pass the others as you come out of the turn and down the homestretch. You not only finish the race, but you have won.

In a race of physical exertion, we call it adrenaline, or “second wind.” In the race of life, we call it the Holy Spirit. A child is ill, and you have so much to do. You don’t think you have the endurance to nurse him or her back to health. But you find a way. A neighbor needs help, and you’re too exhausted from a hard day. You had planned to relax. You find the energy to help anyway. You’re asked to speak in the worship service or serve on a committee in church, but you are afraid to talk in front of people. Nonetheless you find the strength to do it anyway. You are asked to contribute your money for a worthy cause, and you have already given so much that you aren’t sure you can spare another dime. Yet you write the check or put the currency in the collection plate.

The Holy Spirit is our “second wind.” When we have “maxed out” our credit line of giving and caring, the Holy Spirit empowers us to go that second mile. When we feel as though our tank is running on empty, the Holy Spirit gives us enough fuel to not only keep on going, but to complete the race.

Do you have it in you to finish the races in your life?

Life is full of obstacles. Have you ever met anyone who has gone through life without a few mountains to climb? Some mountains are higher than others, and most of what we face from day-to-day may be nothing more than hills, but we all have peaks to cross.

There’s an old riddle about a man who has a fox, a chicken and a bag of grain. He has to cross a river in a boat, but he can only take one thing with him on a crossing. So how does he get all three across the river without losing any of them? He can’t leave the fox and chicken together, or the fox will eat the chicken. And he can’t leave the chicken and the grain together, or the chicken will eat the grain. Yet he needs to cross the river and end up on the other side with all three of his possessions unharmed.

Life is often complicated. There aren’t easy answers for every difficult question. Sometimes we must go out of our way, away from our everyday routine, in order to come up with the answer. We must climb mountains in some very unconventional ways not only to get to the top, but also to cross over them.

When our mountain is in front of us, that’s all we can see. But if you look at the mountain’s others have climbed, then you can acknowledge that no mountain is insurmountable. In the summer of 1967, Joni Erickson and her sister went for a swim in the Chesapeake Bay. Little did they know how that day would change Joni’s life. Joni dived into shallow water, struck her head on a rock and became paralyzed from the neck down. She went through two years of often-painful rehabilitation, learning to paint by holding a brush in her mouth.

Joni’s mountain seemed overwhelming. She became angry with God, demanding to know why he let this happen, even at times wishing she hadn’t survived. At first Joni could not reconcile her condition with her belief in a loving God. It wasn’t until a good friend reminded her that Jesus knew how she felt that she was convinced God did understand. Her friend told her that Jesus, too, was paralyzed. He couldn’t move or change position on the cross. The nails paralyzed him.

In the years since her tragic accident, Joni has learned that it is in her weakness that God’s strength can shine through. As she shares the faith that sustains her with others, she continues to be a source of enormous blessing to people all over the world.

We all know people whom we admire because of the obstacles they have overcome and the faith that has sustained them through it. Like Joni Erickson, they had it in them to get to “the other side of the mountain.”

Do you have it in you to climb the mountains of your life? The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to tell of God’s powerful deeds. When you talk about God’s power, you begin to really believe it. You are empowered by what God can do.

A wise old rabbi was teaching on Deuteronomy 6:6 -- “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts” -- and told his students that God’s words are placed upon our hearts. One student asked, “Why is it put that way? Why are we not told to place them in our heart?” The rabbi answered that it is not within our power to place divine wisdom directly in our hearts. “All that we can do is place them on the surface of the heart so that when the heart breaks they will drop in.”

You and I don’t put the Holy Spirit in our heart, but the Holy Spirit is given to us and fills the cracks of our hearts every time that it breaks. Life causes heartbreak in our struggles to climb mountains, but God’s Holy Spirit fills those breaks with a new and rejuvenating power that carries us over the top.

Oh, before I forget, I left the man standing on the bank of the river with his fox, chicken and bag of grain. The man first takes the chicken over and drops it off. He goes back and gets the bag of grain. After taking the bag of grain across the river, he takes the chicken back and picks up the fox. So now he has the fox and grain over the river, and he simply goes back and gets the chicken. Complicated, but simple. That’s often the way it is with the questions in our lives. The only unanswered question I have is why the man had a fox in the first place? But then, why do we do so many of the things we do in life?

Do you have what it takes to live the life?

A fourth grader brought home his report card and it was filled with poor grades and failing scores. His mother asked him, “What have you got to say about this?” Grabbing a cookie out of the cookie jar he replied, “One thing is for sure, you know I’m not cheating!”

And most likely he wasn’t asking God to give him good grades when he knew he wasn’t prepared. We’ve been given a power that we must know how to use. The disciples understood how powerful it was to be together in one place. They drew strength from one another. They had also learned from Jesus how to prepare though the study of scripture and prayer.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to live our lives, not to live in fear; to live life to the fullest, not merely to survive; and to do marvelous things in the process. We don’t control the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that guides us, if only we will let him.

Do you have it in you? If you do … then let it out. Let it show. And let the powerful deeds of God be seen in you.


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