I like it that Paul relates the Christian walk (or run) to a race. In a race, you can’t go too fast or too slow. The secret is endurance. Listen to scripture:
“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew 24:13
Luke wrote it a little differently:
“By your endurance you will gain your lives.” Luke 21:19
Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). What is He saying in these scriptures? By finishing the race – by having endurance in the race – you will gain eternal life.
My nine year old and I got up a little early this morning. I decided to do something I have been thinking about ever since we did a 1 mile “fun run” last week – get his highness back out there and get him to run another mile. He needs more endurance. He needs to finish the race
So, without too much arguing (and a bribe of an extra 30 minutes of video game time) we go out to run a mile.
I was teaching him to “let go” downhill. Save your energy, rest on the down, so that when you get to an “up” you will be able to have the endurance to get to the top.
A few times he stopped to walk. “No,” I said, “slow way down on the run. Jog in place if you have to – but don’t stop – because if you do – you will not want to pick up the pace again.”
He did well until about 9 minutes into it. He started to whine; he started to stop. But the finish line was only a bit away. We started at one stop sign and then ran past two more. Of course when I said, “You are almost at the stop sign, Dak! You are almost there,” he thought I meant the stop sign right in front of him.
I tried to encourage him. “Keep going. You aren’t there yet!”
Then there was a little bit of “I can’t breathe” and a little bit of “why are you doing this to me?”
I wonder if this is what God hears from us. We are running the race and we can’t see the end. Or we think this may be the end, and we slow down, but God is ahead of us going – don’t stop now – this is not the stop for you. I have something better just ahead. I have “more.”
Yet we whine. We “can’t breathe.” We say, “Why are you doing this to me!”
I am laughing right now because I have heard these words come out of my own mouth over the past few weeks with these “new things” God has declared. I can’t see the end right now. I can’t seem to breathe. I am frustrated because I know what the end is, but I can’t seem to get there. I am running slowly going “Daddy, why in the world are you DOING this to me. My heart can’t TAKE much more.”
And there is Jesus out in front, a big grin on His face, saying, “Wait to see what I can do! A few more turns, Nic. A few more bends, and you will see the end. Trust me!”
But that’s it isn’t it? When we are running and hurting and aching and trying our best but not seeming to get anywhere, we doubt – just like Eve did in the garden.
“Did God really say?”
Did God really declare “new things,” Nic? Did God REALLY say those things to you?
His jerkiness knows when to throw a little doubt your way. He wants to slow you down. He wants to make you whine a little. He wants you to stop trusting the One who knows where the final stop sign is planted.
Trust. That is the key. Trust what He is telling you and as Paul says, “Keep the faith.” We have to trust the last thing He told us or we are unstable in all that we do (James 1:8).
I have been a runner for over 20 years, yet for the past 10 or so I have been caught in a rut of just running three miles every time I run. I have decided I need to shake it up a bit. I ran eight miles yesterday. Going for 13 by the end of the summer. I now have a new understanding of the word “endurance.”
Sometimes we don’t push ourselves enough. We get too comfortable where we are. I have been comfortable surviving for years now. God never likes it when you get comfortable, because that means you aren’t relying on Him to the fullest. So when we think we are finally settled, here He comes, declaring “new things.”
So today, as you run your race, here is what I want you to do: don’t whine when it gets tough and trust the One who knows the way.
“Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalms 143:8
And at the end of the one mile? Dak turns to me and says, “I just ran a mile!” with a really big grin on his face.
Was it worth it? You bet it was. The race is always worth it. We just need to stretch our faith and build our endurance to “keep the faith” . . . and tell the snake in the grass to take a hike. You know what God told you – believe Him.