Yesterday evening, 18 of us met at Clearwater trail for a run/walk. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold and as we gathered near the parking lot, I was anticipating a great time of fellowship and encouragement. And we did have a great time. I got to know a new couple a little better and we had a nice run. However, there were a few small annoyances that marred an otherwise perfect evening. Actually, a few in a bit of an understatement. There were seemingly THOUSANDS of mosquitoes! And they were aggressive. One even flew in my mouth before we were able to start.
While we were running, it wasn't too bad, but as soon as we slowed to walk or stopped, they were on us immediately. When we finished, we weren't able to stand around and visit while we cooled down like we usually do. The bugs were just too bothersome. The worst part was, I had purchased bug dope earlier but forgot to bring it.
As I drove home, I reflected on how the mosquitoes were similar to the Joy Killers Pastor Kirk spoke of earlier in the day. For those of you who weren't in the service, the text was I Thessalonians 5:16 "Rejoice Always". He listed 5 things that prevent us from experiencing joy as God intended. When we use negative words, fail to appreciate the blessings we have, believe the lie that we can't "choose" to be joyful, think that joy is found in things - more things, and when we are in conflict with others, we miss out on the joy God has for us. While none of those things seem to be really big deals, like the mosquitoes they become an annoyance until our attention is from God's goodness to whatever pesky thing is bothering us.
The good news is that just like there is bug repellent for mosquitoes, there is a solution for repelling those annoying joy killers too. Pastor Kirk shared four of them; first we have to make joy a daily part of our lives, we need to consciously be appreciative of the blessings we have, we must focus our thoughts on positive things, and we must pursue the purposes that God has for us. When we do those things, we will avoid the joy killers like we avoid mosquitoes when we use repellent. And here is one more trick for learning to "Rejoice Always". Spend time with others who can encourage you, build you up and even swat away some of those mosquito-like joy killers for you.
That's where the Calvary Running Team and all of our Community Groups can help. When we live life together in community, we are better positioned to encourage and build one another up. So don't get bugged, join the CRT or one of the other summer groups.
We would love for you to join us this week. On Wednesday we will meet at Clearwater trail at 7 pm (I'll bring enough bug spray for everyone), on Saturday we will meet at 8 am at Pre's Trail (the Alton Baker Park entrance) and on Sunday, we will meet at 7 pm at Clearwater Trail. I hope to see you there.