Message from Michael


(G)Rowing To Victory

On our recent time away as a family, at the start of the summer break, we took the opportunity to visit Nottingham and Loughborough. The idea was that, whilst up that way, we would visit the haunts of our two eldest at University – Daniella, studying Microbiology in Nottingham and Nathanael studying Mechanical Engineering at Loughborough. This, along with visiting friends in Derby (from our days at London City Mission) and grabbing a day trip to Alton Towers (courtesy of Tesco’s Clubcard).

We took walks in the countryside to places which were meaningful to both siblings - visiting such places as the rocky outcrop of Beacon Hill as it overlooked “Luffy”, some little local woods which hid the abandoned Garenden Estate Obelisk, and having a picnic at Wollaton Hall, able to get within feet of the huge deer that roam freely. We sampled favourite eating places – a kebab at a local fish and chip shop, a pastry at “Bon Bons” Pattiserie, and a burger at “Phat Buns”. We worshipped with Nathanael’s church – Hollywell Church in Loughborough.

Our base was a rented Nottingham property overlooking the River Trent, just opposite both the Forest Football Club stadium and the Trent Bridge Cricket ground. There were a number of rowing clubs also situated opposite, and, coffee in hand, we watched individuals and teams rowing up and down the river.

As we witnessed the rowers on the Trent, speeding along, and watched some late-night Olympic rowers on the TV, I imagined myself as a rower – how difficult could it be? The five of us hired a couple of canoes and ventured out on the Highfield’s Park boating lake, just round the corner from Daniella’s student digs, for a leisurely paddle.

However, we quickly became competitive with races up to the end of the lake and back. As I strained at the oars, and grew out of breath, red-faced, sweating, I realised that the marked out finishing line would be too far for us to gain victory by conventional means. It dawned on me that to win the “race” between myself, Sandra and Anaia in one boat and Daniella and Nathanael in the other, I would have to resort to more nefarious tactics. I seized the opportune moment for a spot of sabotage – as I pushed their boat, spinning into the overgrown islands. This to no avail however, as they still ‘won’, for my tactics did not account for the fact that I was still too exhausted to help us finish in first.

It reminded me of how Christians in their pursuit of spiritual growth need to be Aware and to Prepare.

We need to be aware of our enemy’s tactics. Satan and his demonic crew, will do all and anything they can to prevent growth in Christ – to knock us spinning off course, to slow us down, to distract and discourage, to cut in on us and prevent us from being victorious. The devil plays dirty, he never fights fairly.

So, with this in mind, we need to Prepare – prepare in Prayer and prepare to Persevere. The Christian life is not a short sprint, but a mighty marathon. It requires us to spur each other on and work well together, to keep on going and growing and not give up – even if it feels fruitless. Thankfully, we have a winner in the boat with us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, setting his face steadfastly upon the prize, finished the race victorious and shares that victory with us.

As you face your race, do not despair – instead, prepare in prayer. Allow the scriptures to help you persevere in growth - check out these and surrounding verses for starters: 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 2:2, 5:7, 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1. Encourage each other because we do not compete against one another, but alongside one another.