If you’ve known me for half a second this isn’t going to be much of a revelation…but…I hate running. Yuck. The gasping for air and stitch in the side and the inevitable pain that is going to show up in my back and probably everywhere else too just doesn’t sound like any fun. I know, I know. It’s good for you and all that. Plus you eventually find a “runner’s high,” right? (You know, the delirium that sets in, convincing the runner they actually like the punishment. Or something.)
As much as I personally don’t like running I have to admit I find the effort admirable. Tri-athletes amaze me. They’re all, “Regular marathons are for pansies. Let’s go for a 2.2 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride before we tackle that 26.2 mile run.” Ultra-marathons are incredible, too. There are races that are 100 miles of running! What on earth? My kids need a snack and a potty break to drive that far in the mini-van, and I’m hoping there’s a coffee shop along the way.
The Bible compares our Christian life to a race. In Hebrews the author tells us all about some of the heroes of faith. Then, in chapter 12, he says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When I was a kid this passage always made me think of the track at the high school. The black, paved quarter mile ringing the football field, smooth and perfectly lined so everyone knows exactly where to go. I envisioned that cloud of witnesses up their in the stands, cheering. Believers, struggling through the pain in their carefully painted lane, all eyes on the finish line.
The picture is nice, except life isn’t neat and tidy like the high school track. It’s more like a trail run. Some parts are wide and well-traveled. Sometimes you can jog with your friends and smell the flowers along the way, but other times the forest is dense and foreboding. There doesn’t seem to be any path at all and you’re left to hack your way through the underbrush. You know people are nearby but you can’t get a clear view of them. It’s dark and lonely. You know there’s a finish line up there somewhere and you just hope you’re still moving in the right direction.
In those dark times when the forest seems to be swallowing up the path you’re on, don’t give up. Let Scripture be your encouragement.
- Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
- Psalm 27:11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path.
- Psalm 25:4, 5 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
- Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Don’t give up. The way is hard but He is your light. Don’t worry about what’s up ahead, just watch your next step. Keep moving forward on the path God is leading you down.
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13
You CAN do this. God is your salvation, even if you feel alone. You CAN make it through the tough spots.
God gave us the Word as the way to know what to do in this life…but what do we do with it? With question – and the reality of life’s struggles – in mind, we’ll be starting a series Wednesday called Foundations. Our goal through this series is to help wherever you are in this race: a new believer, a longtime believer who is just starting to dig into the Word, or even a seasoned believer that has studied the Word but still struggles with applying it to real life. Regardless of where you fall on the path, we want to help you learn to read God’s Word for yourself, own it and understand it, and see how it filters into everyday life. We hope you’ll check back here on Wednesday as we kick off our Foundations series together!