I want to introduce you to my dear friend, Christine. Christine is a mom of four very energetic young boys and she has a heart of a Warrior Princess. She is currently writing a book, a curriculum actually, on this topic. She is a wonderful friend, mother, and teacher. She is also a talented writer and speaker. I’m honored to share her work with you! ~ Amy
I ran a marathon before I was married. I’ve never really cared for running, but caring for my body has been a priority for a while now. Without access to a gym, training for a marathon was a great way to employ discipline to stay fit. And the peer pressure of the friend I was doing it with was a great help too.
The marathon was in San Francisco, California. The course took us through all kinds of terrain; flat roads by the bay and wharf, hills by the Golden Gate Bridge and through Golden Gate Park. Along the way I was presented with a few obstacles. I broke out in hives on mile one so by mile 3 I was running with Benadryl in my system. About mile 13 my foot started throbbing and swelling.
Just as the race course goes through different terrain and we are met with all kinds of circumstances- our spiritual life looks similar. As we approach the different seasons of life, it’s crucial to realize that this race we are in is a marathon. This is no 5K. This race is our lifetime and will impact eternity. Friends, there will be a time to sprint and a time to walk.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Perseverance has been defined as a steady persistence in a course of action, steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, a continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition. So I would say following the instruction in Hebrews 12 means moving forward. As long as we don’t let a circumstance take us out, if we take the time to deal with them so that we can continue in the course marked out for us, we are persevering. Let us consider Jesus, the way our God cared for Himself and others as He ran His human race. His actions were never rushed, His ways were steady as He moved toward His finish line.
I was diagnosed with a hypothyroid a few years ago. The season of discovering my illness and recovery was slow going, learning how to really rest was crucial to my recovery.
It was in this season I came to a much greater understanding of God’s grace. My inability to run well forced me to lean into Him. His grace carried me, and I had to be okay with not being strong enough. I saw this image of trying to run my race with my four young boys. Like hauling them along with me- constantly verbally pushing them and physically dragging them along this dusty trail. They were getting filthy and scuffed up. I was getting nowhere and my exhaustion was not only going to destroy everything in my world but also kill me. This picture slowed me down. And when I did the scene changed. In this new picture I was not in workout gear sweaty and straining, but in more elegant attire. Walking leisurely along this dirt road, holding a mug of coffee and smiling while conversing with the four children around me. They’d discover things along the path, eager to show me and tell me all about it. I was able to laugh and enjoy every bit of them. Although this picture is different than the one that comes to mind reading Hebrew 12:1-3 I think it can be applied.
I knew that Jesus had come to give me a full life- wanting me to thrive- not just survive, so I changed my battle plan. It was time to look at the season I was in and consider the terrain. It takes discipline to slow down. Sometimes it takes more discipline to slow down then to “keep up”. Sometimes the things that ensnare us on our journey are sins of pride as we seek perfection and holiness with our own effort and perhaps even competition with our fellow runners.
Run your race sister. Focus on the ground before you, feel inspired and encouraged by the other runners, but remember they won’t be able to beat you in your race, because God did not make your life or my life a competition. Others are running their own race and we can celebrate the successes they have, the ones they post on social media, just as we would want them to celebrate with us.
Warrior, strive to press on, enjoy and embrace the terrain God has brought you to. This requires us to beat our body into submission. Practically speaking this will mean striving to keep up in spin class or telling our body to be quiet, and climb in bed mid-day to read a novel. Maybe it’s doing the dishes, and maybe it’s snuggling with a child. God has called us to run the race as if to win. You will need to pace yourself. Depending on the terrain you’re on, acting in the spirit of discipline will be to reach out and say “yes” to the leader in church who’s asking you to serve. Other times it will mean beating that people- pleasing desire down and saying the word “no.”
As we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith we will be able to run with perseverance the race marked of us. Our goal is progress- not perfection. Perfection is being with Jesus at the end. For the joy of being with Him in eternity- of finishing the race with a smile and an embrace from our proud Lord.