"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us . . ." Hebrews 12:1
Watching the young man surf at the beach, I was reminded of my childhood when my brother and I skim-boarded in mud puddles. Our skill never rose, even slightly, to the level of the young man in the surf! It took him time, commitment, and dedication to rise to that level, which is true for any sport. A weight-lifter doesn't begin bench pressing 300 pounds and a marathoner doesn't run 26.2 miles the first time she runs. To be at the top of their game requires dedication, perseverance, and commitment, which my brother and I were unwilling to devote to skim-boarding!
It's no accident that God compares our Christian walk to running a race. Faith must be exercised. We cannot be expected to endure life's hardships well without the proper spiritual training. At the beginning of every year, countless people resolve, once again, to eat more healthfully, exercise more, and lose weight. Many Christians will also rededicate themselves to having daily Bible devotions, praying more faithfully, and determine to be a better friend, sibling, child, spouse, and neighbor to others. Oftentimes those good intentions last a few days or weeks, and then we give up. So, how can we run our faith race more effectively?
In Jesus' Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23), the seed that fell on good soil is likely the part of the parable with which Christians identify. But are we not sometimes like the seed that fell on rocky ground? We hear the Word and receive it with joy, but when trouble comes we react with anger towards God. We blame him for it, become depressed or lash out at others, and fall away – maybe not from our faith entirely, but a root of despair or anger takes hold, and we may begin to doubt God's love, or alienate ourselves from others.
I discipline my body and keep it under control.
The Apostle Paul said, "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" I Corinthians 9:25-27 (ESV). Hebrews admonishes us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . We are told to strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees - Hebrew 12:1-12 (NIV).
Ask yourself, "What is holding me back or getting in the way of running my faith-race? What sin is entangling me?" God says throw it off; we must be liberated from sin's trap to run this race faithfully! Let us dedicate ourselves to receiving the proper spiritual training, and allow God's Word to root down deep in good soil, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus—knowing his plans are best for our lives—so when times of trouble come (and they will come), we will be equipped to handle them, and persevere faithfully to the end. Then we will hear our Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master" Matthew 25:21 (ESV).
Read and meditate on Psalm 1.
Dear Lord, help me to delight in your Word and meditate on it throughout the day. I want to be fruitful for your kingdom. Make your will known to me, so I will walk in your way. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Sarah A. Keith
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