Finish the Race

I started this post two weeks ago and am finally finishing. Woot-woot! It has been a very busy time as my family is in process of moving, (which has been our marathon move).

I also want to share that this will be my last post for a while. I know God called me to this blog after I almost lost my husband to pneumonia seven years ago. But after prayer, I feel led to focus on some other areas, the first being getting our family situated in our new home. Many of you have been so encouraging in my blogging adventure. Thank you for reading and for all of your support! . . . . On to the race. . .

With rubber-like legs, I pushed myself to what I thought was the last stretch before the finish line. Although my vision could only focus on the runner in front of me, my hearing worked just fine. “Half a mile left!” the runner next to me told her friend.

No! I wanted to scream, if only I could. There’s not a half-mile left in me!

But I knew I would be my own worst enemy, if I didn’t push myself and finish. Amazingly, I did, (although I almost collapsed afterwards). Not that I’m a great runner, but my body had more reserve than my brain let me in on.  

Ever feel like you’re in the last stretch of a marathon, (or half-marathon as was my case), with no kick at the end? The daily grind in itself can chip away at our resolve to go an extra mile, let alone the inevitable monster trials that pound all of us on occasion.

To finish a race, one must practice discipline and persevere. What is this race the Bible talks so much about? While there are many references, I think Galatians 5:7 (ESV) brings some clarity: You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”

Any athlete knows the importance of good nutrition and adequate rest for optimal performance. Likewise, applying the discipline of Bible study, devotions, prayer, fellowship, and service is the training ground for believers to successfully follow God’s truth and finish the race.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24) .

How do we “run that we may obtain the prize”? The following are a few points that come to mind.   

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Not every runner is built for long distance. Some are sprinters, but they lack the endurance for the long run. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the abilities God has given you? What are your spiritual gifts? God made you unique and has equipped you for service that will not only bring Him glory, but will also be rewarding.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before: Keep your eyes on the prize.

The athlete must be disciplined and throw off every hindrance. And “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,” (Hebrews 12:1).

We’ve all sinned and fallen short. We’re exhorted to “forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13). For the believer, we have everything to look forward to: heaven, eternity with Christ, no pain or sorrow, and much more.

Know Your Course

Jesus tells us His sheep know His voice and listen to Him. Too many times, I needlessly stress, wasting precious time and energy, seeking after good things, but fail to run after what’s best. When I don’t take time to be still and ask God to show me what my race course looks like, I wind up running the wrong direction, missing an important turn, or limp along a course God didn’t design or call me to in the first place.

Ephesians 4:6 says, “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

God has unique plans for both churches and individuals. The Apostle Paul writes: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God,” (Acts 20:24).

What does your race course look like? Have you taken time to seek God’s direction in prayer? Ask Him to scope it out with you. He alone knows what He has in store for each of us. His ways may be mysterious, but He has good plans for those who love Him. He will only call you to a ministry course that He has trained you for and knows you can finish with His help.

Pace Yourself

I’m not a track coach, but I’ve learned that the correct race strategy for a marathon follows the exact opposite theory of a 5k. The runner’s goal for any race is to learn how to settle in to a specific pace and run it from start to finish. Control the need for speed. It’s better to be consistent.

Maybe God has placed you in ministry that feels like a marathon. Maybe you’re in training with some shorter sprints. Maybe He’s called you to a season of rest. Ask Him to speak into your season and what He wants you to pursue each day. Then follow through.

Don’t Run Alone

Many of us who enjoy writing are introverts. While we need our down time to reflect and reenergize, it’s really important we don’t hole up and withdraw completely from other believers. We are part of the body of Christ and need the other members if we want to be healthy and keep in the race. Other members need us as well. It’s God’s intention for us to meet together regularly.

Thanks for staying the course! I appreciate each of you and pray God’s blessing as we continue the race. 🙂

Where is Your Treasure?

Your heart will always pursue what you treasure.

What do you treasure? It’s natural for teenagers to daydream about athletic glory, romantic excitement, pride of possession from owning the right car or wearing the best clothes. Hopefully, as we mature, we recognize what will last for eternity and set our focus on that.

Matthew 6:24 tells us we can’t serve two masters, God and money. Jesus also warns us in Luke 12:14, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

So how does one store up treasures in heaven? I found the following post to be concise and insightful. You may read it here: Treasures in Heaven. Have a great week!

Fan the Flame

Settling into our family cabin, I determined to start a big crackling fire in the fireplace. After wadding up several sheets of newspaper, I positioned the logs in tepee style to create a nice little vent for the oxygen to fuel the flame. Completely satisfied, and patting myself on the back, my dancing fire lasted for maybe five minutes before fizzling out.

Fortunately, my husband came to the rescue. It didn’t take long before he chipped away several smaller slivers of wood with the ax before tucking them under my larger charred log. With a little poking and prodding, he had a steady flame atop a bed of hot embers in no time. But he didn’t stop there. As the furnace kicked in, he jumped up to crack the front door open for ventilation so smoke wouldn’t flood the room. When the flame dwindled, he persistently stoked it. Thus we, (I), enjoyed relaxing by the warm glow all afternoon. 🙂

This is where my analogy breaks down, at least in the comparison of keeping the flame fueled in a relationship, with only Eric doing most of the work. But you get the picture. It takes observation and consistent effort to keep a good thing going. Whether in marriage, another relationship, or maybe something God has called you to, keep pressing on. Maybe your faith has been waning. Fan the flame with regular Bible reading, prayer, and regular fellowship. Do the work to keep the fire burning.

If you are God’s child, remember that He is on your side. He will not only equip you in the good work(s) He has predetermined, but will also fuel into you the needed wisdom, faith and strength for the asking.

Build Upon the Rock

Almost lured to sleep atop his air mattress by the gentle rhythmic incoming tide, my dad didn’t see it coming. BAM! A random large wave pelted him downward into the sand before catapulting him onto the shore. That was the end of an otherwise relaxing vacation, and the beginning of his back pain.

Hopefully you haven’t been literally pelted by a random wave, or regular wave for that matter! But all of us experience setbacks and storms in life at one time or another. Like that wave, an unexpected storm barges in with surging winds of adversity, stripping everything bare, exposing our foundation.

All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented Himself as both the final authority and fulfiller of the Law. He finishes His sermon with not only a call to heed His message, but also to find one’s security in Him (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Jesus tells a story about two men: one who builds his house upon a rock and another who builds his house upon sand. I’m sure you know which house weathers the storm. Jesus calls this builder wise. But the house built on the sand collapses during the storm, and the builder is dubbed foolish.

A good foundation is obvious, but its importance can’t be overemphasized. The strength of a building lies in its foundation. The main purpose of the foundation is to hold the structure above it and keep it upright.

In this parable, Jesus gives us some wise words about the foundation of our lives: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Our life foundation is crucial. We will face some storms in this life, and may even need to rebuild. Sometimes the pressure to heed the world’s advice and turn away from God’s words hits with hurricane force. At times, our own feelings bombard us inwardly to do the opposite of God’s will.

But despite these tensions, the wise person will follow God’s words as a result of trust and thankfulness. God will bless the one whose life is built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. As we grow in trust and obedience, He will anchor our “house” in Him so that we are able to weather the storms. It is God who grows our hope and faith. The wise person is like the tree planted by the riverside, whose leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:1–3).

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness Sake

The Beatitudes describe traits that are the heart of the Christian way of life. They are characteristics we should bury deep within our souls. If we are living by the Beatitudes, then we will no longer be like the chameleon who easily blends in with its surroundings. Pursuit of living a godly lifestyle will result in standing out from those who live by the world’s standards.

Living a God-pleasing lifestyle will inevitably bring some hardship. Being different in a godly way will bring persecution.

In some areas of the world, following Jesus carries the death penalty. For those of us who live in the Western world, persecution might result in some form of harassment at school or work, or being bullied.

How does persecution bring blessing? Why would Jesus honor those who experience this pain in the eighth Beatitude? Who will undergo persecution and what is His promise to those who undergo this “honor”?

Rev. Mike Michael Glodo writes more about this topic. You may read it here: Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted. Wishing you a blessed week!