“Let us run . . the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT
“The life of faith demands the effort and endurance of a marathon, not the enthusiasm of a sprint.”
My thoughts and comments today are about “marathon runners.”
Amy, our daughter-in-law, mother of four and avid runner the last several years, decided she wanted to run a marathon. She has now successfully concluded two marathons in San Antonio and Houston in recent months; that’s 26.2 miles of sheer determination, endurance, and mind-numbing physical and emotional anguish. I cannot imagine the regimen of training, mental strength, and physical stamina that requires. It is safe to say that not just anyone is able to accomplish such a physical achievement.
Like other serious runners, she must have grown weary with the discipline of training. She experienced soreness, strains, and exhaustion during relentless hours of training. She sacrificed precious hours she could have used in a busy family, and expenses for proper clothing and equipment. There were some things she gave up in order to achieve a greater goal.
Along the 26.2 miles every runner stares down the possibility of failure, times of struggling with their own limits as faster runners pass with more strength and experience, moments when others quit along the way raising doubts of their own ability to finish, and a weariness to the core of one’s being – until seeing the finish line requiring just a few more steps and last ounces of strength. A runner’s success does not come easily nor without sacrifice; real success in any demanding effort never does! Your best effort must endure until you cross the finish line.
Finishing the race requires stringent training, settled determination, physical stamina, mental toughness, demanding perseverance, and a superseding goal that inspires and empowers your best effort. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words, “I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 TEV.
I would suggest that every follower of Jesus is in a marathon of even greater importance, one of eternal consequence. The life of faith demands the effort and endurance of a marathon, not the brief enthusiasm of a sprint. Dare we expect minimal demands or marginal sacrifices to be sufficient? There are mile markers along the way, but the journey is measured in days, months, and years rather than miles. Anything short of the finish line is too soon.
Following the most amazing histories of faith and perseverance (Hebrews 11), the writer speaks to us, “Therefore, since (you) are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, strip off every weight that slows (you) down, especially the sin that so easily hinders(your) progress. And run with endurance the race that God has set before (you) . . do this by keeping (Your) eyes on Jesus, on Whom (your) faith depends from start to finish . . so that you don’t become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT.
My helpful reminder is this: “Remember in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win . . They do it to win a prize that will fade away; we do it for an eternal prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT. See Acts 14:22 NKJV. Run to win; the finish line is in sight. May you be as confident as Paul as he faced his impending death, “I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT.
My prayer for you today is that you never lose heart or hope short of hearing God say, “Well done!”