Research shows that runners take an average of 39,731 steps to complete a marathon. Walkers, taking shorter strides, take an average of 54,182 steps to get to the finish line. In either case, it’s a long grueling race requiring planning, endurance, and perseverance. Our spiritual journey requires these same three traits. Discover more similarities in today’s message.
It has often been said that life is like a marathon. We can learn sound spiritual principles from runners. Like runners, we should have a plan, expect obstacles and setbacks, make a commitment, and persevere to the end of our race.
Proverbs 4:25-26 tells us, “Let your eyes look straight ahead and your gaze be focused forward. Survey the path for your feet, and all your ways will be sure.”
Like a runner, our first step is to have a plan. We need to prepare for our race. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Runners face obstacles and injuries. Precautions prevent injuries. Runners need a good trainer, a training routine and above all else they need to stretch before and after running. Injuries result from lack of preparation and inadequate stretching. Good training habits help to assure a successful race.
These same principles apply to our spiritual race. We need daily training, good spiritual mentors, and a good prayer regimen. Nutrition matters too. Fasting trains our soul, and the flesh and blood of Christ provides our spiritual sustenance to run our race.
We also need endurance. Runners know that things go wrong. Even the most experienced runners are confronted with unexpected setbacks and injuries. To reach the finish line, they often need to endure a variety of pains and injuries. So too do we as Christians.
Injuries common to runners include runner’s knee, stress fractures, shin splints, achilles tendinopathy, ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, blisters, and even temperature-related injuries such as sunburn, heat exhaustion, frostbite, or hypothermia.
These injuries result from overuse of muscles, training too hard too soon, running too long before being ready, chronic degenerative changes to the body, accidents, and some seem to happen for no reason at all.
Spiritual injuries and obstacles are inevitable on our spiritual marathon. Like with runners, these often result from a lack of proper training. We need proper formation. Accidents, obstacles, pain, and suffering will befall us for reasons outside of our control. Spiritually speaking, we need to learn to walk before we run. Prayer and study provide spiritual stretching. These two work together to build our endurance. Endurance is essential to overcome the difficulties we encounter along the way.
Perhaps right now you are worn down by the daily battle against temptation and sin. Maybe, at this time you feel defeated. Perhaps you may be losing hope. If so, you can ask Jesus to help you carry your cross and bear your burdens.
When it comes to endurance, Scripture says it best: Romans 12:12, states, “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.” Hebrews 10:36 says it this way, “You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.”
Like it or not, suffering, grief and pain are part of life. God can not only help us endure our pain, He can also bring about good from the most trying situations. In Romans 5:3-5 we read, “but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance.” In 1 Peter 1:6-7 we find this, “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Endurance leads to perseverance. For a runner to win the race, he/she must endure and persevere all the way to the finish line. So too must we on our spiritual race.
James 1:2-4 says it this way, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Jesus was clear that life would not be easy. He told His disciples that they would encounter hatred, persecution, suffering and possibly even death as a result of following Him.
Running a marathon is not easy and neither is running the race of life. Scripture reassures us. In Philippines 1:6 Paul states, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Finally, Jesus tells us, in Matthew 24:13, “the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Don’t ever give up and don’t despair. Our hope is in Jesus Christ! He will see us through to the victory line.
Heavenly Father, the only hope I have to successfully receive my Heavenly reward at the finish line of life is to place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I DO! Please help me to endure and persevere along the way. Amen!
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