“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Phil. 3:12-14 (NLT)
True confession: I’ve never liked running. I was a sprinter on our track team in high school, but when the team needed distance runners and I was “promoted”, I quit. Distance running was hard, and I didn’t want to have to learn to pace myself; to be consistent; to work hard enough to gain the endurance required to run a long race.
Patience and endurance have been muscles I’ve really had to work on building throughout my life as they haven’t come naturally to me. Another confession: They still don’t. I have to work on them a lot.
Several Bible commentaries on Philippians 3 refer to Paul’s race reference as something easily relatable for people of that time period, and I think whether or not we are athletes today, we can appreciate the metaphor. Distance running is very similar to faith.
Why? Deep, lasting, true faith requires endurance; it’s not a sprint. Just like endurance running, faith requires consistency and time and course correction when we veer off onto our own paths. A lot of people aren’t willing to put in the time and training, and so when life gets hard, they say their faith doesn’t “work.”Deep, lasting, true faith requires endurance; it's not a sprint. Click To Tweet
It’s easy to keep going and lean in to Him when things are going smoothly and the journey is easy, but the true test is when we face obstacles; when life becomes an uphill battle; and when we have to move through the pain toward our goal. This isn’t easy, and it’s not difficult to see why many of us question whether the training is worth it sometimes.
The truth is that without training, tough times will sap our endurance and we will quit – just like I did when things got tough on the track team…except the consequences here are much higher. What does training in our faith look like? Time spent reading and studying the Bible; looking to discover who He is so that you can more deeply trust what He promises; and praising the One who knows and loves us completely.
Put in the time. Make the time. It’s so, so, so worth it, and it’s what this broken world needs – people who love well from a place of endurance.
The world needs to see women (and men) who hurt AND STILL deeply believe; who struggle AND STILL praise Him; who are authentic about their battles with the enemy AND STILL know and respect He who is in charge. The world needs to see people who don’t quit on their faith – or each other – when times are tough.
When we become deeply rooted in Him, we see the value of endurance both in our faith and in our daily lives as well as where they intersect. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s exactly what this world needs.
I may have quit track, and I may still not like running for long periods of time, but I do love deepening my faith because it makes the good times sweeter and the hard times easier to know that an unchanging God loves me. Now, who’s up for a run?