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“BETTER TO BE LATE THAN IN VAIN” – Jan 14

January 17, 2014

“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:  ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men’.”  Matthew 15:7-9

tommulpagano / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I tried to attend my first group spin last week.  As usual, work kept me preoccupied a few minutes beyond the time that I should have left for the spin session.  Now, I was late.  I hurriedly grabbed my bike and duffle bag of work clothes and rushed out the office back door.  I was immediately confronted with the reason that I was heading to a spinning session rather than a real ride.

The presence of winter still had its firm hold on the thermometer and its white blankets of snow and ice covered most of the ground.  I did the awkward winter shuffle to my pick-up, through the alley and across the adjoining street, burdened with a bicycle over my shoulder and a bag hanging from an outstretched arm for balance.

I hastily removed the front tire of my bike, set it against the rim of my vehicle, lifted the bike into its place in the bed of my pickup, and secured the front forks to the restraint.  I was ready to get the engine running in search of some heat as I patted one pocket and then the other; no keys.  I repeated the process, even patting my backside, which had no pockets.  After doing a few versions of this little incredulous dance, I realized that I had forgotten my coat which was why I was cold and more importantly contained the keys.

Frustrated with myself, I ditched my bag into the pickup bed and headed back to the office.  Since I was now seriously late, I raced swiftly back, recovered my bag from the pickup bed and leapt into the pickup.  I arrived late to the spin room a little exasperated.  In anticipation of a great workout, I went to retrieve my equipment.  I was in for a rude surprise.

Foter.com / CC BY-SA

I reached into the back seat of my pickup to retrieve my front wheel.   Imagine my surprise when I could not find a front wheel on my back seat.  I looked in the front seat – no wheel.  I looked in the pickup bed – no wheel.  I looked again in the back seat – still no wheel.  In my rush to get the spin session, I had forgotten to grab my bike wheel that I had leaned against the pick-up tire.

I had rushed about in vain.  All of that hurrying to get to a spin session that I now could not participate in because my wheel lay abandoned miles away.  The worst part was that someone had come along and snatched my wheel up before I could get someone from the office to walk out and check the street for it.

A bike is not of much use without a front wheel. 

I wonder how many times I have rushed off to a “spiritual session” and left the most important element behind.  I have headed to Church on Sunday morning with a grumbling heart, motivated by obligation.  I have eagerly agreed to help only to complain as the day approaches.  I have ministered and then moped when not appreciated.  I have poured myself out and then bemoaned the lack of fruit.

I have too often played the hypocrite.  I wonder how many times my rushing has been in vain because I forgot to focus on what was most important.  I become engrossed by the cares of  life and abandoned my reliance upon the one who actually accomplishes my intent.  I know that God is always with us but I also know that our hearts can drift far from Him.  We can get so preoccupied with activities, even good spiritual / ministry activities, that our hearts proceed without a thought of the God we love.  Our minds can get so focused on the trivial that we drive off and leave God with our morning devotions as surely as I left my front tire at work.

We are repeatedly warned that the most important attribute of a Christian is love.  Paul says that we are nothing, that we gain nothing, if we don’t have love.(1 Cor. 13:1-3)  Jesus tells us that we worship in vain when our hearts are far from Him.  Even Peter fell into a pursuit that took him away from the heart of God.  He tried to rebuke Jesus from going to Jerusalem to suffer, be killed, and rise on the third day (Matt. 16:21-22).  Jesus responded by showing Peter that he had set his mind on the things of man and drifted away from God’s will.  He actually was being used by Satan to discourage Christ which is not what he thought he was doing.

How many church splits have resulted from elders showing up with hearts far from Christ?

How many family gathering have been ruined by minds set on the things of man.

How many lifeless lessons have been taught or sermons preached by someone responding to obligation?

How many worship service have been wasted in thoughts of lunch?

Showing up is not good enough; showing up on time with an unprepared heart gains nothing.  It is like showing up for a spin session without a front wheel.  When we show up with an unprepared heart, we have just engaged life with so little faith that we could not kick a pebble from the parking lot, which is much less than moving a mountain.

When I showed up without a front wheel, I could not workout.  The problem with showing up with a heart drawn close to God is that we can proceed forward without him, which opens the opportunity to be actually used by Satan as Peter was.  Setting our minds on the things of God is not an option for the follower of Christ.

I would rather show up late with a heart drawn close to God by a mind that is set on the things of God than show up on time with a heart far from Christ due to a mind preoccupied by the things of man.  I do not want to live in vain.  I surely don’t want my preoccupation with the cares of this world to result in my service being used by Satan.

Let’s not live in vain.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for the grace that You have shown me when I have rushed off with my mind set on all my cares in this world.  Thank you for being merciful to me when I have acted faithlessly.  Father, help me to keep my mind set on you.  Give me a love for you.  Draw my heart close to You.  Prevent me from wandering away.  Lord, keep the works of my hands, which I do when my mind is not set correctly on You, from being used by Satan.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

5 comments

  1. So appreciate your story of the missed spin class and the lesson to be drawn from it. Losing our focus on God does cause all kinds of trouble–wasted time, a tarnished testimony, lost opportunities–to name a few. Also appreciate your wisdom–the one word that can make all the difference, IF we live it out: love. Love for God, expressed by obedience to him, and loving kindness to others. Thank you, JD, for another thoughtful post.


  2. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Very well said. I often read my Bible in the morning then rush off to start my day, without bothering to take time to pray. God should be the first start to each of our days.


  3. Thank you for another bike analogy devotional =)


    • Yeah, I have sort of gotten stuck on the bike lately. Maybe, it is because I am really wanting spring to get here so I can start riding outside again.


  4. You know that commercial where the chicken’s wings keep slapping the guy up along side the head first on one side of his face and then the other??? yep, feeling a little like I could be the one in that commercial about now!!



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