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
Long-distance runners call it The Wall. It's that 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. But those who are unprepared will drop out of the race in exhaustion and defeat.
As Christ-followers, we face our own wall each day as we try to live up to the calling for holiness--or being conformed to all things to God's will. That means we must be set apart by living by our Creator's standards rather than the world's expectations. But too often we tire as we fight 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 tempted to go back to our 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 long battle, fatigue tends to set in.
Of course, giving up is never a viable option. We read in the Gospel of John that Jesus' disheartening words caused many of his followers to turn their backs on him and head home. Christ then asked his 12 disciples if they also planned to leave him. To this Simon Peter replied, "Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life."
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 example, 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, steep hills and rough road lie ahead of us. 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 personal 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 stepbrother 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 overcome the obstacles in this long-distance race called life? All you have to do is ask for it in faith.