Tag Archives: endurance

It’s not a sprint

Years ago I chose the title for these weekly blogs. “Along the Journey” suggests the reality of the twists and turns of life, the moments when we soar and the moments when we stumble. The road isn’t straight, the way not easy. There are times when we feel it’s all up hill. There are other times when we can coast. Life is more marathon than sprint.

After the author presented the hall of faith in the letter (chapter 11), he or she gave us one of the most impressive word pictures we can find in the Bible. We can understand the image because we have seen it in person or on the screen – a stadium full of people cheering on their favorite teams. We have witnessed the compelling sights of the world’s best athletes competing in international events like the Olympics.

As chapter 12 opens, individual runners are surrounded by a cheering throng. The noise begins to swell as the participants stretch, strip down to their uniforms, and find their place at the starting line. On the huge video board, a single runner is pictured – a Champion who finished the greatest race of His life, achieving a record never to be broken. His victory becomes the inspiration for every runner about to begin his own race.

The athletes have trained for this moment. They know there will be moments when they have to push through fatigue, cramping, depleted oxygen, and soreness. They somehow find a second wind, and then another and another. Their eyes are fixed on the journey ahead, knowing there is a finish line. The temptation to slow up or even quit is resisted. You cannot win if you don’t keep running.

The roll call of those who also struggled to finish serves as motivating encouragement. Your eyes lift to the video board again and see the lone figure who battled all the tests and trials runners face. He has mounted the victory stand as the crowd roars. You dig deeper and stretch your stride. His example calls you to greater effort. Their encouragement gives you a surge of determination.

No one can run your race for you, but you do have the example of Christ and you do have a crowd of witnesses who cheer you on. It might not be easy, but it is worth it. Run on!

Tapestry

Corrie ten Boom was a remarkable woman. Her Dutch family took great and costly risks to hide Jews from the Nazis during the occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. Helping a number of Jewish neighbors to escape, the Ten Booms were determine to provide a hiding place while the German Gestapo and Dutch collaborators hunted them.

Betrayed by a Dutch informer, the entire family was arrested on February 28, 1944. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were transported to several camps until arriving at the infamous Ravensbrück women’s labor camp. They endured the horrors of their captivity while leading worship services with a Bible they had snuck into the camp. Betsie grew weaker and it became obvious that she would not survive. On December 16, 1944, Betsie ten Boom died. Just before slipping away, she told her sister: “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

Corrie would learn of the death of her father and other family members. After the war, she returned home to set up a rehabilitation center for camp survivors and collaborators. Traveling the world to tell her story, she even came face to face with one of her guards. She overcame her feelings of anger and resentment to offer the man forgiveness.

She had a victorious perspective of a life of suffering and hardship. She chose to trust God with a larger picture than she could see. One of her poems demonstrates her amazing faith:

“My life is but a weaving between God and me.

I cannot choose the colors He weaveth steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow; and I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper and I the underside.”

Few of us will ever be exposed to such deprivation and devastation. Even so, we can choose to trust the Weaver of our tapestry. O God, help us to lean on You!

Thank you, Church. Your response to our circumstances has us moving in the right direction. You can see in the newsletter the results of this past Sunday’s gifts. Please remember that we must look at our situation with a long view. One Sunday of generous giving is  a wonderful start, but this is more like a marathon than a sprint. Biblical stewardship is not a single action that results in a stronger financial position. Biblical stewardship is a decision, an act of the will, a display of discipline about the whole of life. How we manage our time, talent, and treasure demonstrates our understanding of who the owner is and who the trustee is.

We begin a new series this weekend, “Putting on the Character of Christ.” When I was seven years old, I was saved. Since then, I am being saved – being transformed by His work in my life into the person He wants me to be. Paul wrote: “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be” (Philippians 3:12).

It makes sense to me. Tell me a pursuit in life where you stop learning, growing, improving, and evolving. We should expect, even demand that we mature as Christians. The process occurs in the midst of the tests and trials of life. Paul noted that the tough times should cause us joy because of the gains we experience: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with hope” (Romans 5:3-5).

To put it another way, God is all in for us. Are we all in for Him?

Calling Wieuca’s Leaders! Our 2nd annual Leadership Retreat occurs November 7-9 with special guest, Dr. Doug Dortch. Doug is an outstanding pastor and leader who will inspire and challenge all of us who have accepted the mantle of leadership in our church. This is also a great opportunity for those looking for a place to serve. A part of our weekend will be a spiritual gifts assessment session that might be helpful in the discovery of your abilities that match leadership possibilities. The retreat starts with dinner (please make reservations in the church office or through Pam Jernigan pjernigan@wieuca.org).  Sessions will take place on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Doug will be preaching on Sunday. Circle this important date on your calendar.

Be in your place this Sunday for Bible study, fellowship, and worship. Invite a friend to join you!

Staying Focused

We have the best intentions. Starting off is not a problem. Staying at the task is. The world is full of those who begin the race with a burst of speed. The world is also full of those who don’t seem to be around at the finish line.

Alexander was saving his money to buy a new baseball bat, but not just any bat. He had seen the one he wanted at the sporting goods store – a Louisville slugger, sleek, black, and powerful. He could tell it had a bunch of hits just waiting to jump off its shiny wood. Boy, with a bat like that, he would be crushing the ball all over the place.

The season was approaching and the saving was going slowly. Alexander knew if he would just be patient, the bat would be his in just a few weeks. It was tough, though. Alexander decided he needed to ask for help.

That night he knelt beside his bed to pray: “Oh, Lord, please help me save my money for that baseball bat. And God, it would help if You didn’t let the ice cream truck come down my street for a while.”

Good things come to those who wait … and don’t get distracted from their goals! There is something to be said about persistence. The very process of waiting with patience and purpose strengthens us.

Paul wrote to the Romans: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us to learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3-5).

Staying focused isn’t easy. Nothing worth having is. The end result is worth the effort. Fix your eyes on Jesus!