Over the years, the Lord has taught me many things about how to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). A lot of these lessons were come by the hard way, by living them out and learning as I went, often as a result of making mistakes. Others were gleaned from mentors in the body of Christ, whether friends, authors, or teachers. Others were gracelets dropped from heaven for no apparent reason other than the Father’s great love. But I treasure each lesson learned and want to freely give what I have received.
Thinking about Hebrews 12:1, for some of us, the word “run” stands out, and we approach everything we do as something to conquer as quickly as we can. For others of us, the word “race” stands out, and we do whatever we can to achieve superiority amidst a field of competitors. For others, the phrase “marked out” stands out, and we seek the precise formula that will get us to where we’re supposed to go. As long as they’re not taken to extremes, each of these facets of living the Christian life is necessary and important. We definitely need to consider each one and integrate them in a balanced way into the way we live.
But I think a word many of us skip over is “perseverance” – defined as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” The reality is that the race that God has marked out for us is not the sprint that we often wish it was, learning simple lessons at record speed, getting it over and done with in plenty of time for morning tea! Our race more closely resembles a marathon, or these days, an ultra-marathon – something that the vast majority of us wouldn’t even consider being within our reach, let alone something we would cheerfully set out to do in our right minds (with apologies to my marathon-running friends who are definitely in their right minds and cheerful as they do this astounding feat on a regular basis 😊). About 16 years ago, I interviewed one of my favorite marathon runners, a.k.a. my friend and former pastor Johnny, and developed some principles we can live by in order to run our races well. Over the coming months, I want to share what I’ve learned with you, and hopefully we will spur one another on in the process. May each of us run with steady persistence the course that God has hand-designed for each of us, especially in spite of the inevitable difficulties, obstacles, and discouragements that will crop up along the way! To God be all the glory in our lives!