It has been a long summer this year, for many reasons. But God has ensured that I do not lack His peace and joy, nor lose focus of the hope I have in Christ.
Two exciting things (at least, exciting for me!) started in the last couple of months that have been an encouragement to me and have lifted me in these times. Two very different things and yet with many similarities and analogies to draw from. The first is a Bible study group and the other is a runners’ group. While I have been part of book study or Bible study groups before and have engaged in running or some sport on and off, the perfect timing of this combination has helped me keep my focus on Christ and not be bogged down by negativity.
Here, I want to share some ways in which God is using these groups to build me up and spur me on:
A Common Purpose
It’s one thing to do something on our own for our personal growth and quite another to do the same thing along with others for communal growth. The first is a group of young (okay, maybe not so young) women who want to grow together spiritually through inductive Bible study and prayer, steering clear of making it just another intellectual exercise. And though in the running group we never really talked about it, all of us (mothers of young children) want to be physically fitter and I think we just like running. Having this common desire to have a healthier walk with the Lord and/or a healthier lifestyle is what made these groups happen.
A Common Target
In both groups we started out with a target -- a tangible goal ahead of us. The commitment can always be renewed once we accomplish each goal but at least we are not in it aimlessly. This makes the commitment easier for me and gives me better focus. The goal could be anything from working towards completing one book of the Bible first or training towards a 5K marathon. Each of us knows and is encouraged by the fact that others are working towards the same goals despite similar obstacles like busy city schedules, small distractions(read children), ageing, etc.
A Common Perspective
For a Bible study it's usually a given, but since we all love Jesus even in the runners' group, it enriches the camaraderie and the way we build each other up. Knowing that you can share your struggles, both spiritual and physical, without being judged is a humbling and unifying feeling. And praying for each other in a running group, now that’s definitely a bonus!
A Common Discipline
I am usually not a very self-motivated person. It's easy for me to slack or become lazy. But I know the importance of being disciplined in both these areas. So when you know there are other women, from similar walks of life, who are showing up or making it happen along with you, you are shaken out of your laziness and spurred on. Even though our runners' group hardly meets, being in different corners of the city, thanks to technology and running apps we are able to update each other of our activities.
A Common Need
Another thing that delights me about these groups is that each of us wants to be in that particular group. None of us has been forced or coaxed into being a part of it. Apart from our individual time of quiet study or exercise, we feel the need to be in a group that holds us accountable and spurs us on in building our spiritual or physical stamina.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together,as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25
As you read this, am sure many of you are thinking of your own groups with fondness. Be it a Bible study group, a baking/cooking group, a zumba group, a mothers-toddlers group, or any group of similar-minded people with the purpose of building up and encouraging each other. But in case you are not a part of any such a small group currently I hope this post will encourage you to join or even start one.
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