Heathdale flower 12th November 2020

An Inner Strength

We can feel exhausted or stretched to the limit, but Jesus had inner strength to the nth degree!

Heathdale flower

One of the things I am enjoying again with the restrictions being lifted is being able to link up with my cycling buddies and enjoy a long ride together.

When we were riding recently, it dawned on us that around this time of the year there was a major cycling event held. The ‘Around the Bay in a Day’ event offered cyclists the choice of five options:

1) 50km ride from Frankston to the city

2) 100km ride from Sorrento to the city

3) 135km ride from Geelong via Sorrento to the city

4) 210km ride around Port Phillip Bay. City to Sorrento, ferry across the bay to Queenscliff then back to the city via Geelong. This is the clockwise route. Riders may choose to do it in an anticlockwise direction.

5) The same route as above but instead of going straight to Queenscliff from Geelong, there was a detour that took riders through St Leonards.

Thousands participate each year. The challenge of completing 210km in a day is something that has drawn me to this event for several years.

Just after I crossed the finish line after one race, I was posing for the mandatory photo with my riding buddies when a lady came over to congratulate us on our ride.

As we spoke, she realised that we had completed the 210km course and was amazed that anyone could ride so far in one day. She made several comments about our strength and ability to ride such a distance. Her continual questioning about having enough strength perplexed me, so I asked her what she meant by ‘being so strong’. I soon realised she was not only speaking about being physically strong enough to ride around Port Philip Bay, but also having the inner strength to ride the course.

When Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness, He needed to have the physical strength to survive and the inner strength that enabled Him to face the temptations from the evil one.

“Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. For forty days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry. The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: "Since you're God's Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread."

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: "It takes more than bread to really live."

For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, "They're yours in all their splendour to serve your pleasure. I'm in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they're yours, the whole works."

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: "Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness."

For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, "If you are God's Son, jump. It's written, isn't it, that 'he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won't so much as stub your toe on a stone'?"

"Yes," said Jesus, "and it's also written, 'Don't you dare tempt the Lord your God.'" That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity. Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit.” Luke 4:1-4 (The Message)

What about Jesus’ inner strength? The test came at the beginning of His earthly ministry when He went into the wilderness and was tempted by the devil. After 40 days of fasting and being continually tempted, Jesus emerged from the wilderness utterly exhausted. His physical strength was depleted; His emotional resilience was stretched; one would assume that He had nothing in reserve. Yet as the account from Mark above shows, it was totally to the contrary. Verse 14 states, “Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit.” Here was inner strength to the nth degree! That which was intended to weaken Him served only to strengthen Him. This is the same spirit of inner strength and calmness each of us is able to enjoy when we are in deep relationship with God. We can feel exhausted or stretched to the limit but we can also have the blessing of an inner strength from God that can sustain us.

My prayer and hope for each member of this community is that we not only come to know about this inner strength but we’re able to embrace this gift from God as we continue in relationship with Him. It is through this relationship He is able to work in us and through us. As this is allowed to happen, we not only receive the blessing of inner strength and peace but we are able to bless others and lift up the name of Jesus.