Running the Race: Endurance, Part 1
January 1, 2023
You jog down the orange and blue track, gasping. All you can think about is how much you'd love to drop to the ground and take a nap! You adjust the humongous backpack slung across your shoulders. Some had said to leave it behind, but it had everything you could possibly need. After all, who knew if the promised water and snack stations weren't really there? What if you somehow were left alone when you needed supplies?
As you go slower and slower, racer after racer runs past you. You don't really care. It'd be a miracle if you even finish this race, much less ahead of anyone else. Finally, you collapse. "I can't do this," you say. You drag yourself to a nearby tree on the sideline and slump against it. "It's. not worth it anyway."
Another runner catches your eye. Though it's not even halfway to the end, he sprints as if it were the last stretch. Sweat gleams on his brow, and he looks ahead like he's focused on something on the horizon. You squint at him. "What are you looking at?" You say when he passes. "And why are you sprinting? You should conserve energy."
The man stops and catches his breath. "Phew. What a workout! What am I looking at, you say? And why am I running like a maniac? Well, why aren't you?"
You frown. "Because I'm not a maniac."
The man laughs. "I get it. But you were still called by Him, right?"
You shift and stare at the ground. "Sure, but I don't even want to go on. That was a hard stretch back there. Lots of obstacles. I certainly am not throwing myself into the race at this point."
He nodded and motioned to your backpack. "And this pack isn't helping much either?"
You hesitate. "I guess not, but if something happens, I'll be glad to have it. Or if I leave the race."
Now the man frowns. "Now I see why you're here and not racing." He pulled a Book out of his pocket. "You have one of these?"
You shrug. "Yeah." You open your pack and rummage through its contents. You pull the Book out of the very bottom. "I know it's the runner's manual, but I'm not one for tips, or trusting the rules."
"It's not just do's and don't's, my friend. It's true help." He opens his Book, finds a certain place, and holds it out to you. "Like this section. I think it will answer your first questions. Why am I racing? Because it tells me to race as if I want to win. and I do, because at the end I'd like Him to tell me I've fought the good fight, I've finished the race, and I've remained faithful. He does mention the track is horrifically hard, but He also helps us by taking our burdens and giving us everything we need as we need it. As for your second question, what I'm looking at, I'm looking unto Him. He started me off on this race, and I know it'll be Him who'll help me finish this race. Not me, Him."
You frown, but accept the book and read the paragraph he tells of. "I guess it makes sense, but it's not easy, especially here in the middle."
The man smiles. "That'll be your choice." He tucks the Book back into his pocket. "Will you come finish this race with me?"
Will you? The ending of this story is up to you.
This New Year's Endurance
Happy New Year's!!!
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)
Isn't life's race a great theme for the start of the year? Each year signifies new beginnings, new opportunities, and new life. We make goals for work, school, family, habits, and even for our relationship with God. Yet how many of us make resolutions, then inevitably stop in the middle? For some, it happens within a few days. For others, a few weeks. For some amazing people, it lasts a couple months. but somewhere in the middle of any commitment we make, it always seems hardest and like we should give up. That's why I wanted to focus on one word this week:
I've learned in many things how important endurance is. I often want to give up on something, or at least slack off and not really effort in it. But I've realized when we turn to God and say, "Lord, I want to do better in this, because I want to glorify You," and we stick with it, the results never disappoint!!
Sooo, how do we stick to it, especially practically? I'll talk more on it next week.
Until then, enjoy your week! Happy New Year's!!