Today my inbox contained an email that contained a graphic with the word, Endurance.
I contemplated it for a minute and then was off to the next email.
Later in the day a good friend left a comment on Facebook with a scripture verse. It’s from a book in the Bible I memorized when I was a senior in high school. But, as I was uncertain with the direction for this Joy Day! post I decided to plug the ‘address’ into Bible Gateway and see how it reads in different translations. (I memorized it in the Living Bible.) It was there that the word endurance popped out at me, again.
Do you believe in coincidences? I prefer to think of them as God moments. To me those coincidences are reminders of God’s hand at work in my life. Ever notice how those coincidences are little tools of his to get our attention? He’s pretty clever that way. Yes?
Have you ever given much thought to the word endurance?
Usually I think about it in the realm of sports. Especially in terms of running a race like a triathlon or marathon. But, really, these past seven months I’ve been learning about endurance…in a different way. Waiting.
You see, in our culture, we’re supposed to strive to make our way to the top. We are do-it-yourselfers. Whenever something is awry and needs to be fixed in any way….we fix it. And yes, I’m a fixer. I know how to make things happen. I try to fix things, events, relationships, you name it. As good as all that is, sometimes it’s not God’s way.
These verses came mind:
…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1b-2a NLT
As I meditated on these verses I became acutely aware that my fixing, my striving, is a weight. It ‘trips’ me up from running with endurance. When we run with endurance we keep moving, we don’t stop. My striving causes me to slow down…even stop.
Paul (the one who penned the verses above) was pretty specific about what gives us the capacity to endure; keeping our eyes on Jesus. We know that. We get that. No questions here. Though often we are not faithful to do just that. We let other things get in the way.
Jesus has already finished the race. He is the champion!
It’s the next bit in the verse that is the tell all. It’s the part I have been missing. It tells us who Jesus is.
You know who Jesus is. He’s God’s Son, he’s our Redeemer, our Savior. What am I getting at here?
Paul says that Jesus is the champion.
We are in a race where the champion has already been declared.
Jesus, the champion, is the one who initiates and perfects our faith.
He’s the one who sets the race for us and he’s the one who gives us everything we need to endure the race. And he declares it finished when he decides.
What does that mean for you and me in real life?
This race of endurance is about trusting God…not ourselves. It’s about moving one foot in front of the other…uphill, downhill, and on the flats. Regardless of the weather. We can’t stop and cry and moan when it gets hard. (Yeah…I know!) We must keep our eyes on Jesus. He will give us everything we need to press on. But, he can’t if we won’t let him.
A few weeks ago I had an Ah Ha moment in thinking about the disciple Peter walking on the water. In order for good ol Pete to do his water walking he had to keep his eyes on Jesus. If he thought about how deep the sea was, what a good swimmer he was, how fierce the wind was, he was sunk, literally. But, with his eyes fixed on Jesus….he was an extraordinary water walker. He could do something no one else could do.
There is really only one thing you and I can do that will help us run this race called life with endurance.
We must keep our eyes on Jesus.
How do we run this race well?
It’s not about have the coolest running clothes, or working out at the gym to make ourselves strong, or even eating a nutritionally perfect diet. That stuff is all about us. As good as all that stuff is, it draws our eyes away from Jesus to ourselves. And we delude ourselves into thinking that any one of these things, if we do it well, will help us run the race faster, stronger, longer. But that’s a big fat lie. From you know where.
It’s about fixing our eyes on Jesus….filling up with his word, listening to him, talking with him, letting him fill us, energize us, sustain us, encourage us. It’s willfully putting one foot in front of the other believing that we live and breathe and move totally at his will, and he provides everything we need to endure this race.
What was the verse my friend shared with me? I thought you’d never ask.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3 NLT
It’s Joy Day!
The day when we count it all joy. The day when we give thanks in all things.
Will you join me in looking over the past week and counting your blessings?
I’m grateful for:
- the testing of my faith so my endurance has a chance to grow.
- there to be no parade of strangers checking out my house.
- cooler weather so we could work outside more comfortably.
- the little things that we no longer take for granted.
- a moving date.
- a friend who “runs” with me.
- a faithful Abba Father who is my strength and provider.
Now…it’s your turn!
Take a few moments to count ‘seven’ from your week and tap them into the “Share Your Thoughts” space below. Want even more joy? Take the Joy Dare here.
Final thoughts about this race…
I’m not a runner. Never have been and I don’t plan to start now. Walker? Bicyclist? Yes. However, I live with a runner turned walker. He tells me that both running uphill and downhill are difficult….the flats are the easiest. But, the muscles and lungs don’t strengthen as much on the flats as they do on the hills.
We’ve been running in the mountains. It’s been hard. No striving on our part makes a job happen. For a few weeks God graciously allowed us to run on the flats….we were able to catch our breath. And then as we came around the bend, the road rose sharply in front of us. We are feeling the burn. We need more stamina to push through this part of the run. One thing we know….we can’t put one foot in front of the other in our own strength. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in order to have the endurance required for this race.
Have you ever noticed that when runners run together the run is easier?
As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we must, absolutely must intercede/pray for each other. We must give each other words of encouragement. We must run together…not alone.
Let’s join hands to run this race together.
Thank you for your prayers. And let me know how to pray for you.
Running an Extraordinary race with you!
p.s. Yesterday’s post was fraught with technical issues. After more than 100 of you had read the post, I learned that the comments had automatically been turned off. If you had wanted to comment, please feel free to do that today as I have fixed the issue. Also, if you want to know more about this uphill race…I share a little more of it there.
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