Will you finish the race?

People who decide to run marathons fascinate me!  The race is a grueling 26.2 miles and requires months of training. At the finish line, runners appear totally spent. Yet, thousands do it and claim to enjoy it. I am told that preparing and running a marathon requires discipline, engagement with a group who offers support, the right kind of choices for diet, and strategy – both in the months of preparation as well as on race day.

How like our Christian experience.  Following Christ is a marathon not a sprint. A ‘hobby faith’ of convenience or a Sunday experience of obligation cannot bring us the deep satisfaction of pleasing God, delighting in His ways, or discovering spiritual maturity.

We admire heroes of faith whose lives are examples of making a Kingdom difference in the world. Just as I admire those who run marathons and say, “But, I could never do it,”  there are many who think “I wish I could know that kind of Christianity” but live with a set of priorities reveal a different heart desire. I ‘cannot’ run a marathon, not because of physical limitation, but because I will not make the sacrifices that are necessary.  

A person who will not do the daily disciplines of prayer and meditation, who will not regularly worship, give, who does not engage in service makes maturity of spirit and character that lead to greatness ‘impossible.’  That individual as incapable of doing great things for God as I am to run a marathon today!

In a conversation with a man who has run a couple of marathons, I spoke of my inability to do it. He stopped me mid-sentence and told me that I was wrong. I remember his challenge well. “Jerry, you have to change your way of thinking first, and then prepare your body. It is a mental thing.”  He ought to know!   

Is there some part of you that wants to know God better, that desires to make His Name great, that wants to experience real fruitfulness in love, joy, and peace?  Then, ask God to give you a goal that’s bigger than your present abilities, a vision of the ‘possible.’  Find a group of people who share your desire and who will encourage you in faith. Then, get going!

Start small, practicing in prayer, prioritizing the soul’s care until you feel the growth of a mature heart, one that is capable of doing  that thing that you could only dream about before your training began. And remember, at the end of the race, there is a reward that is eternal, that does not tarnish, that no one can eclipse, or take away. “You will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4, NIV)

Real Christianity is an adventure, a high calling, a life of excellence that brings honor to God. When we focus only on the rigors of discipline, without factoring in the reward of spiritual intimacy, it is hard to choose well. God calls us to daily disciplines because He desires to coach us to a mature and complete life, one filled with His Spirit, where the Evil One is defeated, that makes a loving space in a hate filled world, and that causes others to say, “God be praised!” Jesus says it this way:  “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16, NLT)

Have you focused your life around doing the will of God,
on finishing the race,  
or are you seeking comfort, the easy way,
a spectator rather than a participant?

God urges us to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.” (Hebrews 6:1, NIV) In short, “Grow up and get on with it!”

Here’s the wisdom of the Word about training. I pray it becomes your daily challenge.  “Train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.” (1 Timothy 4:7-9, NLT)

Together, let’s finish well, for the glory of God!

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

True Intimacy  (a prayer)

With all of my heart
I hunger for You
All I want and all I seek
Is true intimacy

With all of my heart
I hunger for You
All I want and all I seek
Is true intimacy with You

Here I stand waiting Lord
Touch me now like never before
Let me change and be transformed
True intimacy is what I’m longing for

Intimacy is the longing
Of my heart Lord
Of this heart

Eoghan Heaslip

© 1999 Song Solutions Daybreak (Admin. by Song Solutions http://www.songsolutions.org)

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