Marathon, not Sprint!
Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting on the Christian race and how we are encouraged to walk as Christians. I only have to look at my own walk to learn this lesson. I thought about the length of my Christian walk, at least 20 years, and I'm grateful that I still have the strength and enthusiasm for God that keeps me going. I know many people who, unfortunately, are no longer on their walk with God. The race we run is a unique one and we don't compete in the way we imagine - we're not rushing to get somewhere first. Rather, we race to build endurance to make it to the end - hence, marathon, not a sprint.
If I imagine my walk as a race track, there are lanes and there are several obstacles on a track that doesn't have an end that's visible to me. But there is an end. Over the last 20 years, I've had experiences that have almost knocked me for six, and I've gotten back up, prayed for strength and continued. There are times I've seen an obstacle that I can't immediately figure out how to overcome so I've stopped again, prayed and on getting my answer, blasted through and continued. There have been triumphs and there have been what feels like losses but I know I'm still in a race so I haven't stopped. In Hebrews 10:36, we know that we need endurance to do the will of God and what kind of race requires endurance? A marathon. If you look at the differences between marathons and sprints, you can clearly see why the Christian walk is a marathon. We're on this race for years! We might come across a particular interruption (test, obstacle) more than once until we know the right way to overcome it. But we must endure!
I want to encourage anyone who feels in a hurry to get to a certain point by a certain time, to review how you run your race. Are you running at a particular pace because you are comparing yourself to others? In James 5:7-9, we are encouraged to wait like farmers for the rain that yields a precious crop. Not just any crop - we want the precious crop/fruit from our labour. And that comes when we are patient and we gain patience through the testing of our faith. When God puts us through our paces, He's training us for a bigger purpose. He's building the type of endurance that will make us wait for the valuable crop. The kind of endurance that does not give up. The kind of endurance that has room to encourage others. The kind of endurance that doesn't judge or compare with others. So how do we build this endurance? Here are some of the things I work on myself:
Wait on God! I cannot emphasise this enough and I still (don't) struggle with this even today haha. I'm the most patient person on earth, as most people who know me will confirm (not!). Seriously, waiting on God is the one thing we must get right because when we wait on God, He renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31) and we soar higher than ever before. This can be hard to do sometimes when life overwhelms us. I try to take a day out every so often where I switch off from everything and just be still in the presence of God. It always fills me with such a thirst and hunger for God that after that period, I am re-energised for the days/weeks ahead.
Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We know that the troubles we face most times need to be dealt with in the heavenly realms so it only makes sense to spend time in this area. When we walk by faith, we receive answers, reassurances and encouragement to keep going. As opposed to walking by sight where we see things that might discourage or distract us. It can be wearisome sometimes, looking at our circumstances that seem so impossible. Look up to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith!
Pay attention to your own work and take satisfaction in a job well done, without comparison (Galatians 6:4). Man, this one! When I saw this in the bible, I almost cried! Do not look at what another man/woman is harvesting and ignore your own work. I am guilty of this too and have lost so much time when I've discouraged myself by not facing my own work. I constantly have to remind myself of carrying on with what God has tasked me with. And pray for others who also have the same!
Finally, just trust in the Lord! The earth is the Lord's and all it's fullness! There is nothing we need that He cannot provide. We only need to focus on what He has for us and we'll have nothing to worry about, even in challenging circumstances. A reminder in Psalm 37:3 is to do good too. I myself pray to God for opportunities to do good in and out of my sphere of influence because it is much better to give than to receive.
Stay safe and be blessed!