It’s about the finish line

raceYesterday, thousands ran the NY Marathon. Up before dawn, bused to the starting line on Staten Island, they knew that they had a tough 26.2 miles to go! Just over 49,000 people finished the race in an average time of 4 hours and 39 minutes!  Reading about how runners do this I discovered that there is a combination of mental tricks.  In the middle of the race as fatigue starts to set in many think about making the next mile, getting over the next hill.  But, most also said that they kept telling themselves it is about the ‘finish.’  Make that line, just make it happen.

Life is comparable to a marathon.  We can’t just sprint through today and think we have done well or pleased God. So many claim to find Jesus, make a big bang with a whole ‘new life’ and then – a year or two into their discipleship – tire of the effort to live against the world and drop out.  In the letter to the Hebrews the image of a distance runner is offered as an example. We are told to set a pace that we can maintain- steadily and consistently, living for Jesus– with patience, with endurance. The original language of the NT uses this word: “hupomone.” The word literally means  ‘to stand under’ and is about not collapsing even under intense pressure.

All around us we can find examples of people who start something with gusto- only to collapse in the backstretch!

Marriages begin with great romance and fireworks.  About half are allowed to fold when subjected to the multiple pressures of jobs, kids, bills, and ‘life.’

Ever seen that burnt out person at work who started as the star performer, who just gave up on life?

Students go off to college intending to make the Dean’s list and too easily get sidetracked into the three day weekend party life style.

Did you start your Christian life with enthusiasm?  It’s an interesting word derived from these roots: en “full”  theos “God.”  High performers, the enthused, were once thought to be full of the spirit of the gods.  In fact, Christian we can be filled with the Holy Spirit and His power will sustain us in this marathon called life.

Are you a finisher?
Do you take time to think about commitments, praying for guidance – and only embrace those that you will see through to completion?
No realistic person just shows up to run a marathon. He trains, he gets in shape.  He mentally prepares for the experience. He learns strategies and skills for the race.

If we hope to reach the finish line of life and win the prize of God’s approval, we need to understand the importance of daily discipline. Yes, the grace of God is a gift, but the life of discipleship involves our choices, a willingness to ‘walk with the Spirit’ as He leads.

Jesus told a teaching story about this. “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: `He started something he couldn’t finish.’ Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?” (Luke 14:28-32, The Message)

The implied conclusion is – FINISH what you start! Remember that it isn’t “all guts, no glory.” Finishers enjoy what mere starters never find: the satisfaction of a job well done, a life well lived, a victor’s crown!

Need a boost to stay in the race today? Here’s the way, the follow up verse to the one where we started today– “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God —he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”

(Hebrews 12:2, The Message)

Run well today! Honor your Savior.  Keep the finish line in sight, even as you remind yourself that you can take this next hill.

____________

You Make Me Brave

I stand before You now
The greatness of Your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of You
King of Heaven in humility I bow

As Your love in wave after wave
Crashes over me crashes over me
For You are for us You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in (to Your love)

 I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace

 You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the Love that made a way

 You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises You’ve made
Because of love in wave after wave
Crashes over me crashes over me

For You are for us You are not against us
Champion of Heaven You made a way

 Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

Amanda Cook © 2013 Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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