In high school, I was a sprinter. My destination was always in sight and it was quick to reach. All of my energy was expended for several seconds and then I was done. Recuperation was also short, so there was an ease in which I experienced the ebb and flow of energy release and replenishment. I tend to believe that everything should offer that same immediate sense of accomplishment and subsequent relief. Run, cross the finish line, reset and then on to the next race, the next task, the next thing.
Life isn’t a sprint toward a finish line that can be clearly seen; it is a long-distance race. The path is obscured with twists and turns. There are trees and foliage blocking the view and unlike with a sprint, the race isn’t on a level track. In this long-distance race there are hills and valleys, potholes and other obstacles to bypass. Muscles will get fatigued and pain has to be pushed through. After conquering one hill there will certainly be another that comes. The same obstacles will be seen over and over again. The commitment to run is for the long haul. Looking around every corner for the finish line will only lead to disappointment. All that sounds exhausting and sometimes leaves me begging for the sprint; that quick finish that I can accomplish with ease. I often find myself getting tired and discouraged.
This is true of many of us. The idea of constantly being in-route can be daunting, endless and overwhelming. Looking ahead our path appears more and more exhaustive and victory unobtainable. In those moments when our own limited strength is on display, we are susceptible to losing our endurance and desire. We begin to hear the whispers of doubt. They say there are others who can do everything we can, but better. They say there are others who are smarter, prettier, or more talented. The more we listen the slower we get and the louder these doubts and fears become. They point out every silly mistake we have made. They point out those struggles we worry we will never grow beyond. As the evidence of our weakness grows, the accusations morph into attacks on our very identity. We begin to question why we are needed and if we are even wanted. Those once small whispers echo lies that reverberate throughout our minds. Giving all we can, we try to sprint away from them, hoping the finish line is awaiting a few moments away. The desire to believe if we just accomplish one thing or just succeed at one little thing all will fall into place. Maybe, we believe, if we get that job, that promotion, get friend, that date, that marriage proposal, that goal weight, that whatever, then we hope we will be enough. The finish line in this race isn’t that convenient. While we might be energized by our victory enough to continue on for some time, we will never be sustained. We need more than a pep talk or small victory; we need our strength renewed. It is something we can’t muster in and of ourselves.
It’s pride that leads us to this point. Deceptively taking so many different forms, pride leads us to believe that we are all we have. Pride sees this race of endurance and leads us to believe that we can win with speed and accuracy and do it alone. It quickly leaves us limping along for the next self-administered shot of adrenaline to keep us going. This devastating and destructive cycle is one everyone can be susceptible to. Colossians 2:6, states plainly, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” Paul says so much in that one verse of scripture! Those last words, “in Him” encompass so much that I personally fail to apply to consistently my life on a regular basis. His strength, His peace, His grace, His sufficiency, and His provision are available to sustain me. From this perspective, the burden of the race lessens.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” ~ Colossians 2:6
There is a great shift from self-reliance that must be made but it can be made through small consistent changes in stride. Instead of looking for a big finish, we can choose to see the journey and rest in faith. 2 Corinthians 5:5-7, reminds us, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. ” Letting go of our own desires to see immediate results as proof of the worthiness of our efforts, can free us. By relying on the Spirit of God within us to remind us of the truth spoken over us we can maintain a steady pace. If we see ourselves slowing or begin to hear whispers of doubt, it can be an indicator to change our stride. John 15:5 accounts the words of Christ as such, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Our endurance comes in our willingness to abide in Christ. As we determine to remain in Him, doubt is overwhelmed with the truth that God loves us so much He was willing to die for us. This was done not in our perfection or looking at our potential, but rather in justly seeing us otherwise un-redeemable. Armed with that knowledge and upheld by the grace and love of Christ’s sacrifice, “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, ” in accordance with Hebrews 12:1.