Personally, I'd rather go the distance, choosing a good cross-country-runner's pace so to speak. You know, with a runner's tempo that's right and appropriate according to how I was specifically designed or gifted to run. Sure, rather than me choose an all-out sprint, then get winded and bail out early. Why do that? Finishin' well with Jesus as Lord needs to happen in my life! It must become imperative for each of us really. We can appropriate grace for this. Being "spiritually well" and running well with Him.. this beats runnin' ill. Yup, there's no time for runnin' spiritually sick, or for quitting now. What does the Bible say? It says...
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." —Hebrews 12:1-2
Back in the day.. in the ancient Greek games (perhaps you've seen old drawings of these) a judge would stand there at that finish line, holding out in plain sight, the laurel leaves that would be rewarded to the runner who finished really well -- the victor. As runners paced themselves and approached that final stretch, no matter the training.. they felt absolutely exhausted, totally spent, perhaps even in agony with their legs and feet, and just feeling as though they couldn't go another step towards that tape if ya will. But suddenly there was the prize in sight.. that prize they each had dreamed about.. and then a new burst of energy would kick in. What is the mental-illustration behind the phrase "looking unto Jesus"?
Well, we see it clearly in Hebrews 12:2. And we meditate upon this snapshot. We as those who have learned to stand up for Christ, and have learned to walk.. as He walked, and then learned to run.. all of us need to keep our eyes dead-bolted on Jesus Christ until the end. Remember when He said "it is finished" as he did just that? Our ultimate prize is Him -- seeing His face, up close and personal. Yes, our prize is the privilege of standing before our first-love (Jesus who ran to win and gave it all for us at Calvary). It's receiving the crown of righteousness that He, with compassion, will gladly give to us.That is why we pause to pray, and why we study the word. This is why we (with His anointing) keep seeking Him trying to live pure and godly lives -- holy lives! This is why we try to tactfully reach other sinners for our Lord. It isn't for spiritual brownie points like we can earn em -- we don't. It isn't for the applause of church people or other people. It isn't for any notoriety or fame. It's so that we can hear Christ say to us on that final day,
"Well done, good and faithful servant."
No, we can't earn grace or our salvation. It's because He has already freely provided it. But we want to daily please the One who laid it all down.. willingly laid down His innocent (completely sinless) life for you and for me. Ultimately, we want to be able to respond something like,
"Lord, I love you and I took this life that You gave to me ..for a world-changing purpose.. and tried to do something good with it. I asked for wisdom and applied your word as best I could.. just to make a difference, just to glorify you. Here it is. I now offer it back to you."
Life here can be tough, pretty rough, even brutal at times. Have you been rejected or lost some loved ones? Think about Him. "Looking unto Jesus.." He did. Looking to Him.. these endearing and challenging words.. keep us goin'. Three good words. Sure they do, don’t they? Be earnest and sincere! Go tell.
Face it. Believers can get discouraged at times. People will let you down. Some try to tear you down. They can disappoint you. Work, churches and companies can too. People might not appreciate your hard work ..with that high pay : ) or even notice your efforts at times. The Holy Spirit sees.
Them not bothering to get it -- to understand your real motives, they might criticize all they don't (or in some cases won't) understand. And that is when we need to remind ourselves, Hey, I am not running my race for this person or for that person. I am running in this race to win, to glorify Christ.
Wasn’t It You Who Signed-Up For The Endurance Training?
But Caleb spoke up and requested this land he had already surveyed. In response, Joshua his leader granted Caleb this request he’d asked for. And this old man proved he had not yet exhausted his courage, his spiritual stamina or determination, for then he said:
What? Is this old man, Caleb, just a bit senile? Nope, not at all. When others were lukewarm and cold spiritually Caleb was bold as a lion. he was spiritually balanced. Caleb had biblical faith inside and really wanted to finish well. Ask.. what ministry do I have today? When can I take time to get alone with the Lord? We each can minister to Him ..alone, first.. and we can effectively minister to others as well. The need is great! It’s no time to quit now. Take territory so to speak. Run.. and win souls!
Caleb was a practical man. He longed inside for Hebron. He clearly expressed his faith and acted on it, not on presumption. Others had looked back, but not Caleb. He stayed focused looking forward. He had a vision. Clearly saw what God had for him. Some people wanted to please themselves at this point, but Caleb wanted to please the Lord.
Be like Caleb. Run in fellowship.
Do you want spiritual longevity today? Then move forward with Christ as your Lord. Seek Him today.. seek to grow in the word (there's not spiritual growth apart from the word). Do what you can. Never look back or quit even if you feel like doing that. Prioritize ministry, but not ahead of your relationship time with God. Keep on goin’, but not for others' applause or for bucks. God notices you, ain't neglectful at all. He will reward. Run in fellowship with on-fire believers too.
F R A N GELISM -- YOU KNOW SOMEONE NAMED FRAN OUT THERE, RIGHT? GO TELL! GO TACTFULLY SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH YOUR FRIENDS, WITH YOUR RELATIVES, WITH YOUR ASSOCIATES, AND WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS TOO!
People are lonely. People are empty. People feel guilty.. uh yes, cuz so many really are. We've all blown it at times and their conscience is working. People are afraid to die. Bring the Gospel to em. Be empowered by your love for Jesus! Would you pray something like...
It’s all for You, Lord. Wanna run well and know you well. I do! Wanna make you well known. Worldwide, starting where I'm at. I have this moment. I have you and today. I will keep on goin' in my lane not cheatin'.. and with my eyes dead-bolted on You. It’s my choice, therefore fill, refill and guide me. I need your wisdom. Yes, please bless, empower, use, and keep me for your glory. Amen Jesus!
The Bible says, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3. Maybe you currently don't like your circumstances or neighbors or work situation at all? God can give you love for people. Ask. Perhaps God has you there for such a time as this. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 10:32.
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Kurt W. von Schleicher