Wednesday, February 18, 2009

See You at the Finish Line!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT)

I often joke that our family's "second religion" is the American Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Race. For over 25 years, my husband has ventured to the very North of the State of Wisconsin, after months of training and skied with "over 7,000 of his closest friends" the 50 K gruelingly hilly race. Often finishing in the top 10%, my husband has now set his sights on raising a new generation of Birkie skiers as he trains our children to enjoy the sport.

Having been his support crew for the past 19 of those years, I see the perseverence it takes to even finish that race. What admiration we both have who are out on that trail for 8 hours just trying to make it to the finish! Along the trail, the skiers who have not properly fueled-up ahead of time or properly paced themselves can "hit the wall" or "bonk", which leaves them in a state of delirium and fatigue. It takes endurance and sometimes a bit of rest and refueling to get back on the trail and make it to the cheering crowd awaiting them on the main street of Downtown Hayward.

So why am I sharing this family obsession with you? Well, St. Paul made many athletic analogies in his epistles, letters to the various churches. And always with those analogies, he talked about the intense physical demands and our need to get in shape, press on and never quit.

Are you properly preparing and including God's word in your training diet every day? I know that is the one thing that can keep me from "bonking" or "hitting the wall" as I deal with the daily stresses of my life. Even at that, I may have to pull over at one of the rest stops along the way, replenish and restore myself before I can press on. As my wise, seasoned Pastor Don says, "Come apart before you come apart!"

Jesus warned us in John 16:33, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." When we face the daily perils of our lives, we need to train, fuel-up on this encouragement our Lord gives us, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until he welcomes us with open arms. It's an endurance race... See YOU at the finish line!!!

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