As I did my run this morning, I got the chance to apply some scriptures in an interesting way and to think on those scriptures.
I think I should first give a little background. Since the beginning of October, I have increased the distance of my bi-weekly runs by 3km. I pray for grace at the start of each run because I know I’m pushing my boundaries, as it were. You know it takes faith and, I believe, grace to stretch yourself…..to break the ceiling you had placed on yourself for a season. Sure, it’s easier to just stay at whatever level you’ve gotten used to but isn’t that just so boring? After all, they that know their God shall be strong and shall do exploits. Right?
So, I’m running along (some ask if I jog or run and to tell the truth, I don’t know the difference; it’s either a fast jog or a run….lol) and thinking that the only way to increase my overall average speed is to stop slowing down and shortening my strides on the upward slopes. So as I begin ascending one such slope, not too steep, I push myself a bit to maintain my stride. Of course, as expected, the voice of discouragement spoke and reminded me that I had two steep slopes yet to come so if I pushed too hard, I would have serious trouble at those slopes. Guess what verse popped into my head:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV)
In life, we have the option of focusing on the challenges or concerns still ahead of us or focusing on the present issues. Jesus advocates that we face our present and not worry about our future, even our near future. As I write this, it occurs to me that when hurdle runners are running, they need to focus on each hurdle as it comes up. How foolhardy it would be to focus on the distant hurdles and invariably end of tripping over the immediate hurdle. So, for my run, I determined to face each section (downward slope and upward slope) and give each section my best. Obviously, if I got really tired later, my later ‘best’ would not be as good as my earlier ‘best’ but that was okay. Would you believe that I was able to handle the two steep slopes okay? I’m not saying it was easy, but it wasn’t as difficult as the voice of discouragement tried to make it seem.
As I ran today, the usual doubts about my ability to complete my route assaulted my mind, two scriptures came to mind:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV)
“…..weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5, KJV)
I realise that the first verse is referring to a reward or an outcome that is eternal and not at all ephemeral or temporal, but here’s how I understood it today. In order to attain anything of value, we have to go through some stress or inconvenience. Think about it. What can you attain legitimately just lazing around? I realise that these days, we have used the concept of ‘grace’ to encourage laziness but that is not what grace is for. God sets the principle of sowing to reap. If you want to lose weight and/or be fit (like I do), you need to go through some stress (exercise) and inconvenience (change of eating habits). There’s no way around it. Forget the fads – pills, teas, etc. That’s for our physical well-being. The same applies to our mental and spiritual well-being. If we don’t read books, our minds can’t develop. If we don’t read/study and meditate on the written Word of God, pray (in our understanding and in the spirit) and fast, we are not going to be as healthy spiritually as we have the potential to be.
The key word for me after thinking on the two verses above and applying them to my run was PERSEVERANCE. We must persevere. Now, the toughest part of my run is the last steep slope because you come off that one and still have a gentle ascending slope ahead for a little distance. Ever so often, I’m so tempted to just give up at that point but I’m a stubborn person. I came to a realization of this fact while I was an undergraduate studying Veterinary Medicine. Don’t ask me what made me realise it because I don’t have a clue now. Well, one evening, as I was praying at the tennis courts (where a lot of us liked to pray late evenings), I surrendered this trait to the Lord. I recall telling Him to help me to always direct this trait towards the devil. I guess that prayer was answered because the enemy of our souls has tried me severally but I’m still standing, to the glory of God.
Yes, my innate stubbornness is a great asset when it comes to persevering. I just can’t abide the thought of giving up. It’s so bad that even the thought of walking some part of my route is abhorrent to me. Like I would have failed. I know we’re not all naturally stubborn but God gives us grace to persevere. It starts on the inside, though. We have to make up our minds that we are not giving up midway in our race that the Lord has set us on and dig in our heels, then the Lord helps us. Did I mention the need to always ask for help? Very important. Ask and you shall receive.
So, my dear fellow worshipper, persevere in well doing; persevere in the midst of the storm; you will make it. Life is in seasons and fraught with challenges, so lean on the Lord and take them one after the other. Remember, you are more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens you. And above all, let God’s Word be worked out in your everyday living.
[Photo courtesy christart.com]