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Posts Tagged ‘endurance’

It is time for a true confession: I don’t like running. When I began a training program late last August, it was with the hope that I would grow to love running. After all, for many of my friends, it is a favorite activity, something that they look forward to and greatly enjoy! But after almost six months, I have come to the conclusion that there is not a single thing I actually enjoy about running. Nevertheless, several times a week I lace up my shoes, adjust the knee and ankle braces, and set a slow and steady course around the neighborhood, or while away some time on the treadmill with cartoons on DVD.

“If you don’t love it, you won’t stick with it,” I was told. Well, I have stuck with it, but do I love it? At first glance, I would probably answer, “No.” But the real truth is that I don’t enjoy running, but I do love the process that it is a part of: the process of making me stronger, faster, and fitter. And I think that some of my reasons for continuing my running program—even though I don’t enjoy it—can be compared to some of the reasons that we can embrace the race of faith, even though parts of it are not enjoyable.

Commitment: When I began running, I made a promise to myself that I would see it to completion. The stated goal of the program was to make me able to run 5K in about 115 days. I knew it would take me a little longer to do this, since I couldn’t always run right along with the schedule (hello, life!). But I committed myself to following the program until I really could run 5K. Remembering my promise to myself helps me to stay motivated when I really don’t want to run.

When we are baptized, we make a longer commitment: a lifelong promise to God that we will follow His ways. And unlike my running program, there aren’t scheduled days off or sick days: no matter how we feel, or how life treats us, we have to get up and get going. It’s important to remember that commitment and let the memory of the promise motivate us to keep going.

Vision: My running program has a goal, a stopping point, a place I want to be. I want to be able to run, if not fast, then at least without flailing and gasping. I want to complete an official 5K. I want to be stronger and I want to fit in my clothes better (or even shop for some new, smaller ones!). All of these things feed into my motivation. The short-term of running every day is not fun for me, but the long-term vision is a very attractive goal. When I want to quit, I remind myself of what lies at the end: achievement!

As Christians, we also have a vision: the Kingdom of God. No more sorrow and no more death. The just reign of Jesus Christ, who will right all wrongs and rule with mercy and justice. The harsher the world becomes, the more attractive those promises are. Right now, we struggle against injustice, sin, and heartache. But we struggle against them because we know that there is a future where those things will no longer exist.

Benefits: No matter how hard the run, I do know that there are short-term benefits. I have developed a new bond with people who actually enjoy running. I’m seeing my weight-loss results gradually being accomplished. I am less afraid to participate in a sporting event, and less apprehensive when photos are taken. And if nothing else, I have the satisfaction of completing a hard task over and over again.

In just the same way, there are short-term benefits to God’s way of life—far more than I have obtained in running. Although the journey is difficult, God’s way brings peace of mind, joy, love…all those lovely fruits of the Holy Spirit. It lets us form special bonds with other Christians, and gives us keys to happier, more fulfilling relationships. Following God gives us hope and a better perspective on ourselves and on the world around us.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrews about some of the heroes of faith who had gone before, all of whom had commitment and vision and knew the benefits of God’s way, even when this life treated them horribly. The ultimate hero of faith is Jesus Christ, who endured a much harder run than any of us will ever experience. We can look to His example—and the examples of faithful heroes from the Bible, or whom we know—to help us to run our own race and achieve our goal. “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).

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