Keep Running!

A lot of us in the church are going through some tough times lately. I
actually think we all are, because life is never easy for anyone. Jesus said in
John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome
the world.” The Bible never says that when you become a Christian, God will
remove your troubles. It only says God will walk through your troubles with
you. We are never promised “pie in the sky until you die”.

Actually what we ARE promised is a grueling marathon. The Bible
compares our lives to a marathon race. Not a sprint. In a sprint you run as fast
as you can for a short distance, and speed is the critical factor. In a marathon,
stamina and endurance are the critical factors. How many Olympic marathons
have you watched the end of, as the runners finally cross the finish line. After
hours of running, they are totally exhausted, often collapsing at the end. The key
thing is that many of them cross hours after the winner has already finished.
These athletes are running their own race, and they are determined to finish…
even if last. Finishing the race is the key.

The apostle Paul encourages us in 2Timothy 4:7 when he says, “I have
kept the faith. I have finished the race. Therefore, there is laid up for me a crown
of righteousness.” Its not about being the first to cross. Its about the honor in
staying the course.

The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 12:1-2, “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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of
our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews encourages us to finish the race, but also, to keep our eyes on
Jesus while we do it. Often a marathon runner focusses on other thoughts while
running. This helps the runner NOT focus on the grueling race. When we focus
on Jesus, we are not so hung up on the problem. We are inspired by what Jesus
did on the cross for us! And we can think about and be inspired by that great
cloud of witnesses who have finished the race before us.

In the previous chapter of Hebrews, the writer talks about Noah, who
spent 120 years of his life building an ark. 120 years? Now that is what I call a
long marathon. I can almost hear Noah whispering in my ear, “Son….you have
no reason to complain about your race!”

Do not lose heart! Be encouraged! God is with you, and God cares.
You can do it! Just keep placing one foot in front of the other.

It’s so good to be your pastor!

In the Lord’s service till the last fish is caught, <><

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Dan and Nancy Nicewonger