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Posts Tagged ‘endurance’

Lately I’ve spent way too much time staring at a blank computer screen. Normally I can pop off a scene or devotion without batting an eye. And because writing has always come so easily, and in many ways accidentally, (I didn’t start out wanting to write. My initial dream was to be a children’s Sunday school director.) I guess I’ve developed this false idea that if God’s in it, I’ll breeze through it. (I really need to listen to my pastor more. He keeps reminding me that obedience isn’t always easy.)

I think part of this comes from my huge admiration of God. I realize that nothing in me is due to anything I’ve done. God could very easily give that devotion or story He’s asking me to write to someone else. If He wanted to, He could raise up a stone, give it flesh, breath life into it, and have the stone-turned-man pen work equivalent to a Shakespearean play.

So why am I struggling? Where’s that strength of God that is made perfect in my weakness? Where’s that peace that surpasses all understanding?

Sunday I was really frustrated, and beginning to wonder if the struggles I was facing indicated a closed door. Or, more accurately, a towering brick wall. Discouraged, I set the project I was working on aside and pulled up my email account. The first message I read was from Inspirational Quotes–a feed I subscribed to some time back.

Proverbs 30:30 “A lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing;”

I wasn’t sure I liked that verse. I liked the premise–that children of God need to follow through with the tasks they are given (my interpretation when I read it.) But honestly, I was looking for something more comforting, like “Abide in Me and I’ll abide in you.” I didn’t want an uphill climb that would take determination and grit. I wanted to find that nice green pastur–to know that if I prayed a bit longer or spent a few more minutes connecting with God, the words would suddenly start to flow. So I headed to Proverbs 31 Ministries–one of my favorite devotion sites.

This is what I got, “David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.”

This helped a bit. It wasn’t the “Rest and let me write the words for you,” I was looking for, but it did remind me of God’s call for dedicated faithfulness.

I’m an endurance runner, largely because I couldn’t go fast if my life depended on it. In high school, I ran track and cross-country. Most cross-country races were just over three miles, which isn’t terribly long, but long enough to bring out a runner’s weakness. If you’d skirted through turn-out, avoiding the hill work-outs, walking on the long runs, or skipping out on the drills, come race day, it’d show. Gratification rarely came instantly. Often it wasn’t until the end of the season, sometimes even the end of your high school career, that you’d begin to see the fruits of your labor.

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On Sunday as I was racing down the steep hills of central Missouri, flashes of color dotting the asphalt caught my eye. Riders from previous heats had tossed empty water bottles, goo wrappers (a high-energy food eaten during long races that tastes like overly-sweetened toothpaste) and anything else that had been previously strapped to their bikes, on the road. And although I doubt that extra zillionth of an ounce wrapper fragment would have weighed them down, their behavior reminded me of a verse in Hebrews:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 ESV

Watching endurance athletes as they gear up for a race adds great imagery to this verse. Everything is evaluated for its efficiency and only the necessities are retained. This careful evaluation continues throughout the entire race as each curve in the road or dip of a hill is evaluated. Racers who make proper adjustments and keep their eyes focused on the course ahead finish much stronger than those who rely on brute strength alone. I believe this is true in our spiritual life as well.

The Bible tells me that God has a course mapped out for me, and although the finish line is nothing more than a glimmer tucked at the top of a long, steep hill, God has provided enough brightly marked cones to get me there. And I know if I would but keep my eyes glued to the orange markers, I could avoid many of the pitfalls that slow me down. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to let my eyes wonder to another path, one lined with delicate flowers and tall, swaying trees, that veers, ever so slightly to the right.

As a writer, I hear a lot of my friends talk of weasel words. Weasel words are those unnecessary linking verbs and adjectives that weaken your writing. But weasels aren’t limited to the page. Life can be riddled with weasels as well; those unnecessary time-sappers that get in the way of effective ministry. If we let them. As of today, I have determined not to let these varmints wreak havoc in my spiritual garden! As my commitments mount and every task vies for prominence, I will go over my schedule with a fine-toothed comb, exterminating those pesky weasels one by one until I can truly say that I have followed whole-heartedly the course God mapped out for me.

What about you? What are your greatest time-sappers and how will you get rid of them?

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