This past July, I ran my best time ever in a 5K. I was pumped, and no, I am not going to tell you my time, because I know that you young ones will probably laugh, but hey, it was really good for me. With each race ran, I would shave 3 minutes off of each race time. I was focused, driven, and enduring. Because of this fact, and that it was getting crazy hot outside, I decided, “Hey, I need to reward myself and give myself a bit of a break for setting this new personal record.” And so I did. During this break, we moved congregations because my husband got a new preacher job. I was given the task of organizing, planning, and writing the curriculum for the children’s classes at the congregation. Our kids started school. The commute to the new job and new school ended up being 40 plus miles a day. Then one day in November, a lesson I had written for a devotional before a race slipped out of my Bible.
I read it and…well… I cried. The person who wrote that devotional for herself and her other Christian sisters had lost the endurance that was swimming through her veins both spiritually and physically. I hadn’t hit the pavement since July….and here it was November! What happened? I lacked endurance. I let that 2 week break from training turn into a 5 month break. I felt sluggish, lost muscle tone, stopped sleeping well, gained weight, and tired more easily. The benefits from running every day had been wiped away because I lacked the endurance to get myself started again.
My spiritual fitness had taken a toll as well. I got so wrapped up in the huge curriculum project I had going, that I forgot to study for myself. The lessons I were creating were for babes in Christ who were needing nourishment from milk. I, on the other hand, am a carnivore, Biblically speaking, and needed meat to keep my spiritual endurance going (1 Corinthians 3:2). I felt isolated, weak, and malnourished in the word.
Endurance is defined as “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue.” I lost all endurance when fatigue hit in my life. Instead of pressing on, I broke and allowed the fatigue to take over. I know that as teens, your situations are not like those of a 29-year-old-married-woman-with-three-kids, but the problem is the same. Lack of endurance. Lack of nourishment. Lack of focus. All of these things are common to Christians and non-Christians of all ages and in all situations in life. What sets us apart from those who do and those who don’t is endurance.
Below is a bit from the devotional I gave to some of my closest friends before we all ran together in the Tulsa Color Run. We trained for months. For some, it was their first race and their first time to exercise in years. We ran together, encouraged one another, and were even able to celebrate crossing the finish line later that day in a celebratory dinner. We accomplished something great because we endured. I think this is why I enjoy running so much; it keeps me focused on perseverance in a way I can understand physically as I apply it spiritually. Read these points. Focus on what you are lacking and just lace up those spiritual tennis shoes and hit the pavement.
Psalm 119:16 “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”
To endure, we must draw from the very source that can keep our spiritual lives alive and well for eternity. Just as a runner cannot succeed without studying up on proper training , the Christian cannot live without the power of the word to guide them.
Psalm 145:18-19 “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”
God needs to be involved in each moment in our lives. During runs, I would use the time to pray. It was a great time to be alone in my thoughts, and in conversation with God. God is our ultimate coach, greatest source of advice, and our toughest critic.
Train With Others
Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
In His wisdom, God knew that we needed others in the race of life, he gave us the Church, and has asked each of us to be involved, serving together, and drawing from each other. Train in your spirituality with people who are striving for the exact same goal as you.
One Foot at a Time
Philippians 3:13 “…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”
We all should be living in the moment, focusing on the here and now, while keeping the end in mind.
Press on and Finish
Philippians 3:14 “I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Our spiritual race is on as long as we have heartbeats. We cannot take breaks, or move on to another focus. Christ is our focus, our purpose, and our lifestyle.