I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us... Hebrews 12:1
These verses are some of my favorites. For the past 10 years, I have run for fitness off and on and at one point trained for a half marathon. When I burned out on running, I took up indoor cycling or spinning. In my cycling classes, the instructor often uses race analogies to prompt us to speed up or exert more effort or she will inspire us to think about the finish line approaching. I will often meditate on these verses as I struggle through these workouts. This morning I realized our lives are really not one continuous race but a series of many races and this is a great source of frustration for me because I'd like to think I started my race at birth and it will end one day in some great finish. The Lord showed me today this sort of thinking might be why I often find myself let down or discouraged.
When you step back and look at your life you really see these little races within the big picture. Some of those "finish lines" are really stopping and starting over points. Here are a few examples:
- Conception to birth
- Making great strides in learning and meeting sudden academic challenge
- New found health/wellness and grim medical diagnoses
- Finally seeing financial freedom and unexpected large expenses
- Career advancement and sudden job loss
- Great communication with spouse or kids and revisiting the same old arguements...
You get the idea. Just when you think you've arrived or just when you think you've got it all figured, life throws the curve balls. This is the stuff that wears so many of us down. It's not always the massive life changing moments but the little stops and starts. You feel like you're running along just fine, even huffing and puffing but you've got a good pace and then you're made to change course.
As I prayed about this, God reminded me that my very own Lord and Savior experienced this throughout His time here on Earth. We know Jesus is acquainted with our grief and sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) but we don't often think He might have had the nagging day to day frustrations. But when I think of Jesus' starts and stops, there were many and here are a few:
- A birth declared by angels and celebrated by shepherd and being made to run for His life
- Announced by God the Father and presented by loving cousin and being driven to the wilderness and tempted by the Devil
- Starting groundbreaking ministry and losing cousin to beheading
- Finding a great team of helpers and having them grumble and complain at the littlest things
- Being called healer and teacher but called out of His mind by family and friends
- Performing miracles and wonders and again running for His life to avoid murder by religious leaders
- Stunning transfiguration and sweating blood in the garden awaiting arrest
- Triumphant entry and gruesome crucifixion.
When I look at Jesus' list, mine doesn't even compare but it tells me He surely hears my sighs of frustration. The best part of my Savior's list is that it did not end with the crucifixion. Three days later, He was resurrected from the tomb where He was laid. Everyone, including His best friends, thought He was a goner and He proved them wrong. When we fully trust in Him, God tells us in Romans 8:11 that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us! We aren't goners either! We might experience the hardship of life on earth but in the end, at the very end of this series of races - we get to have the same finish. When I choose to focus on the final finishline, I can brave the starts and stops a little easier.