Last Sunday, I was in Huntington, West Virginia visiting with my pastor-friend, John Minihan,to hang out, fellowship, read, study, and preach at his church. But, before worship at 10:30 A.M. that morning, we ran at 7:00 A.M. in a race called the “Marshall University Half Marathon.” John and I had been planning to do this, and he had really been training very hard. In fact, he ran the 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Let’s just say I did not. Let me also say that training can never be called overrated. I was fine through about 8 miles, as John and I were running together, and we were going along at a really good pace. Suddenly, and without any warning, it’s almost as if my legs said, “Okay Hartman, that’s enough!” The last 5 miles were a real struggle as my hips and legs just sort of seized up. I just couldn’t get loose or my stride back. Well, you know me. I didn’t drive all that way to West Virginia, train for weeks, or run in that race, only to have to quit before the end, so I was able gut it out and finish it in around 2 hours and 10 minutes,
As I was running those last few miles, a verse that kept running through my mind was from Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” One of life’s most important lessons for all athletes, regardless of the sport they are doing is: “Tough it out… suck it up… and don’t ever give up.” In fact, when the writers of the New Testament saw those Greek Olympians sucking it up and toughing it out, they said, “That’s what we’ve got to be like as Christians! We can’t be wimps. Like world-class athletes engaged in a grueling competition, we must run with perseverance the race that is set before us!” How do we carry on in our spiritual race when the hills are steep, the road is long, and the pain intense?
Friends, we find strength to persevere by keeping our focus on Jesus Christ. Through our race of life, the writer of Hebrews also says, “Look to Jesus.” In other words, we should focus our hearts, minds, and bodies on him. We need to look to Jesus, because he will be there for us! And if we do, and if our eyes are fixed on him, we are going to go forward in faith, as the writer Mark Twain once said, “In all of the calm confidence of a Christian who is holding 4 aces.”
You see, Jesus ran this race long before we did. He is the author and pioneer of our faith who conquered these roads long before we ever came along. He suffered, died, and was raised again. And Jesus will one day be at the finish line with a huge smile on his face, waving us home. So Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church, let’s lace up our running shoes, and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.
Quote of the Week
“In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of history, there is glory to be found if one has done his best.” Eric Liddell
Eric Henry Liddell was a Scottish Olympic Gold Medalist runner, rugby union international player, and Christian missionary. Liddell was born in China to Scottish missionary parents. He attended boarding school near London, spending time when possible with his family in Edinburgh, and afterwards attended the University of Edinburgh.