Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lessons from a Race: Part 2: Perseverance: You CAN Do It!

So most of the aches and pains have gone away. But while the physical pains have gone away, the lessons to be learned from a race still remain.

Today's topic is perseverance. With the same verse as before, Hebrews 12, we again look at something specific Paul commanded us to do. He tells us to put aside "every weight." Let me draw your attention to the word every. What does this mean? I would say it means to put EVERYTHING in God's hands. Not just some things, or most things, but ALL things.

So in a race, one of the biggest things people complain about is that they "can't do it." Some people don't think they have the strength, some people don't think they have the patience, and some people are just plain scared of the idea of running a race. And I'll admit, when I first thought about it, the idea of running 10 kilometers, timed, with a bunch of my siblings running at the same time scared me. I honestly thought too myself: "10 kilometers? 6 whole miles? There isn't any way I'm doing that for fun!"

But then I thought about Paul. He wrote so many times about how the Christian faith was similar to running a race. So I thought I'd give it a try. It was while I was running that I was able to realize just how much can be learned, and how the lesson of perseverance can be applied.

Until you have run a longer race (that you can't sprint) you don't really understand the whole theory of perseverance. There is this thing called "the wall." This is where a runner is physically, mentally and emotionally ready to give up. They've gone as far as they can get, and they simply don't think they can take another step. So what happens?

The large majority of people will just stop. They hit the wall, and collapse, sometimes within sight of the finish line. Can you imagine what that would be like? To be within sight of the finish line, and then to give up? What if it was life? You go through life, really trying to serve God, and do His will, until the last month? And then you die? Can you imagine how horrible that would be?

The lesson for today is to keep going. Don't give up. For a little history intermission, we can travel back to World War II. Not many people realize it, but England was on the brink of defeat. They had lost almost all their equipment earlier after they evacuated Dunkirk, and the morale of all the troops was rapidly declining. Germany was outperforming them with machinery, airpower, manpower, and strategy. On top of that, they had designed the V-2, a rocket that required very little to do a great deal of damage.

The only thing that kept the English going was their high morale. Their perseverance. Just about any other nation would have caved under such attacks, and in fact, many of them did. But it wasn't until Hitler met Winston Churchill, the stubborn man who led England through it's darkest hour. But it was his determination, his willpower, and his strength that got England through. He simply wouldn't give up. Ever. There were times when he literally didn't have any options. All his planes were gone, London was ablaze, the hospitals were full, and more bombers were coming. Through it all, he was remembered for one thing:

"Never, never, never, never give in!"

This is what perseverance is. When everything around you is falling. Everyone has failed, and you are the last stand. And it's when you have failed, and you have been driven to your knees, that's when He can shine through you. When we are weakest, He is the strongest.

So today's post isn't so much about physical or emotional strength. It's more a mental thing. You have to go all the way, give it all up, and keep going. We are told that we can do ALL things through Christ. Again, that's not some things, or most things, that is ALL things! We just have to accept it, and have the perseverance to run the race, even if it means Him carrying us across the finish line.

I'm sorry if this seems a little vague and rambling, but I've just finished a most exhausting day of school. And believe me, it wasn't by any physical strength of my own that I made it through. It was completely by God's grace, and His unmerited favor and blessing that I was able to complete everything that was required of me. But in order to do that, I had to reach the wall. I came to a point where I just stopped, and He took over.

So it isn't so much about your fight, it's more just persevering through Christ. To never cease to trust Him. To never reach that wall where you just drop your faith. That is my prayer for all of you, and for me. That we would never lose sight of what is most important, especially when we are facing diverse trials.

Until next time, you can rest in the assurance that if you give your problems to Christ, He WILL take care of ALL of them! How awesome is that?


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