Ironman: Part 1

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July 12, 2013 by Pastor Ben McIntire

bumblebeeAs the Wright brothers and others were experimenting with the possibilities of flight in the early 1900’s, scientists discovered that according to the calculations of aerodynamics, bumblebees should not be able to fly. Obviously, the humble Bombus Terristris, can be found flying all over the place in our backyards, gathering pollen from flowers. Many people expound on this interesting failure of scientific equations to argue that God’s design of nature is far more profound than we humans can comprehend. What actually happened, though, is that those early calculations were correct—they just didn’t accurately describe what was going on in the real world. Yes, by calculating the mass of the bumblebee and the surface area of their tiny wings, flight looks like an impossibility. Yet that equation does not account for a number of other factors, like the flexibility of the wing, and the unusual fact that the right and left wings flap and function independently of each other. What looks impossible on paper, is not necessarily impossible in life.

In Luke, chapter 18, Jesus encounters a rich young man who wants to know how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell off all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow as his disciple.

“When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:23-27)

The verse, Luke 18:27, is on the license plate of our car because it is a message of hope and inspiration to me. For one thing, I need the reassurance that God is most active with me in my moments of doubt and despair. This Sunday, I will compete in my second triathlon—another step in the direction of my dream of finishing an Ironman Triathlon one day. For anyone who has trained to compete in a distance sport like triathlon, swimming, cycling, or running; you know there are many times when you doubt your ability, you despair over your slow progress, and maybe even feel like giving up and just sitting on the couch eating Cool Ranch Doritos instead.

But what is impossible with man, is possible with God. God made bumblebees which can fly, even when appearances make it seem like flight is out of the question. God made me: a big guy who has finished one triathlon and will try to do it again on Sunday. (Check back next week to hear how it turned out.) And even better still, God did the impossible by raising Jesus Christ from death and the grave to everlasting life. Impossible for mankind; but not for God, who loves you and me and all his creation. God created us to be eternal creatures that can share in his love and joy even though we are fallen, bruised and broken sinners; just as he created bees that can fly even though gravity and aerodynamics say otherwise. God is amazing, and we can trust him with our hopes and dreams, both in this life (like my Ironman) and in the next.

Ironman2Speaking of Ironman, he can fly too. Check out this clip from one of my favorite movies. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwzuMk8SRzY

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, you made bumblebees that fly against all odds. You forgive my sins, even as I continue to sin each day, though I wish I could stop somehow. You do the impossible, Lord! I pray that you will strengthen my faith in this life, and raise me to eternal life as you raised your Son, my Savior. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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Pastor Ben serves at St. Mark Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Storm Lake, Iowa.

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