Sunday, September 5, 2010

In the Long Run

I am coming soon. So hold firmly to what you have, and no one will take away the crown that you will be given as your reward.

-- Revelation 3:11

Our faith journeys as Christ-followers are marathons, not sprints. But as with any expedition over winding roads and rugged terrain, weariness is bound to set in. Long distance runners call it The Wall. It’s the barrier of mental and physical fatigue that successful athletes train for years to overcome. If successful, they’ll reach the finish line with power left to spare. Others meanwhile will drop out of the race in defeat and exhaustion.

As Christ-followers, we face our own wall each day as we try to live up to God’s calling. We begin to tire as we battle against our natural tendencies to do what’s wrong (“sin”). Instead of following Jesus’ example of loving our neighbors, helping the disadvantaged and honoring God, we’re often tempted to go back to the old “Me First” lifestyle. It’s a real struggle: the selfish stuff we know we shouldn’t do versus the ultimately world-changing things we can and should do. And as with any ongoing struggle, fatigue eventually overcomes us.

Of course, giving up is never a viable option. We read in John’s Gospel that because of Jesus’ disheartening words, many of his followers began to turn their backs on Him and head home. Christ then asked his 12 disciples if they were also going to leave him. To this Simon Peter replied, "Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life.”

So what can we do when we hit our spiritual wall? First, we should lighten our load by shedding the excess possessions and unnecessary distractions that hold us back. For instance, do any of us really need the burden of more credit card debt when we probably have more than we need of just about everything? And like successful marathoners, we must always keep our eyes on the finish line. Yes, there are plenty of hills and rough road ahead. But every step we take gets us closer to victory!

Finally – and most importantly – we must always pray for strength. And we get this much-needed vitality through the Holy Spirit: the Power that all Christ-followers receive when they ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit is literally God residing in every Believer. It’s that Force that enables us to do or say the things we never could before, overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and generally do the impossible. In fact, the Bible tells us it’s the same Power that raised Jesus from the dead that first Easter morning. And it’s our Power to keep on the journey.

James, the step brother of Jesus, gives us these words of encouragement:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Do you have the power you need to make it to the finish line in this long distance race called life? You can persevere. And all you have to do is ask.

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