Discipline, part 2

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
-Hebrews 12:12

I was on our track team in junior high school. I wasn’t especially fast, but I remember something my coach told us when we were getting ready to try out for the 400 meter sprint race. He said that when we came around the last corner we would feel like quitting, that our legs would not want to move. Then he told us something that didn’t seem to make sense. He said that if we would just keep pumping our arms, our legs and feet would follow.

It was my turn to try out for the 400 meter race. I lined up with several of my teammates, and the race began. It started on a curve, and I set a fairly quick pace for myself. There was a slight breeze at my back in the first straightaway, and I was able to keep my pace. Coming into the final curve my legs began to grow weary, and when I came around that last corner, heading into the final straightaway, my legs did not want to move at all, let alone finish a sprint of 100 more meters. But my arms were still strong. If my coach was right about my legs, I thought, maybe he was right about my arms. So I stopped focusing on my legs, and started pumping my arms. Sure enough my legs kept up. I ended up winning the race that day, and got a spot on the team running the 400. Some meets I also ran in the 4x400 meter relay. Not because I was fast, but because my arms were strong. Later I was able to teach this technique to my own junior high track team.

The command to strengthen our feeble arms comes near the end of a letter that was written to encourage us in our faith race. In chapter 11, the author lists for us a great cloud of witnesses who themselves have finished their own faith race, and are watching and encouraging us to continue in our race. The entire book is focused on how we need to rely on Jesus throughout our faith race. The writer is not telling us literally to pump our arms, but as a good coach he is telling us how to finish the race.

How do we strengthen our feeble arms? By lifting them in praise and worship of our God. When I was in high school my pastor likened the raising of hands in worship to children lifting their hands to their daddy. Kids aren’t strong, but they know that their daddy is. We need to go to our spiritual daddy when our arms are not up to the task in front of us. He’ll provide the strength we need to finish our race.

But what about our knees? We had some friends in our church who were stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base here in Tucson. One day the inevitable call came, and he was due to be transferred to another base. As often happens just prior to the transfer, he was sent off, away from his family, to receive additional training for his new assignment. One Sunday we asked his wife how he was doing, She said he was having some problems with his knees. It seems they were swollen and in a lot of pain. Apparently he was spending a lot of time on his knees in prayer for his family while he was away!

Physically my friend’s knees may have been weak, but spiritually they were strong, and getting stronger each time he knelt in prayer for his family. We need strong knees to finish our faith race. The best way to strengthen them is to go to our knees in prayer each day. Bob Carlisle sings that when you see him on his knees, it’s not because he is weak, but that he is getting stronger. We can’t do it on our own. As with anything God requires of us, we need to go to Him to find the strength and enabling to do it.

Consider how you can strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.