perseverance spiritual

Running a Race that Matters

9:02 AMHeather

I sat on my chair and looked across the room at him. My husband of twenty years, as we talked about the fall and our schedules and our goals. With tears in my eyes, I finally admitted to him, "I want what I do every day to count! I want it to matter."

That's the truth of it. I want my life to count. I want each day to count. For my contributions to matter. For my existence to make a difference. I want to be healed of my need for my own glory, and truly see and strive for God's glory. I want to write blogs and books that reveal who he is to the one who forgot. I want others to be moved toward him and to be encouraged. I want to create beautiful things that make life prettier... that are something to enjoy. I want my life to matter.

I need God to help me refocus. To shift my gaze from earthly accolades to the heavens. I want to quit looking at "likes" and "page views" and to know that my Father sees it all. I want to consider the eternal and the largest sum of all my contributions and to remember that they will never be enough to cast at his feet when I see him face-to-face. I need to be reminded that when that moment comes, I will wish I gave more. I will wish I did more. I will wish that I loved more and loved better. I will wish I served more. I will wish I poured myself out more. I will wish I sacrificed more.

I will regret my pettiness and my selfishness and my need for self-glory. I will regret my striving for earthly glory and my love of comfort and ease and my need to be in control. I will hate my unbelief in his greatness and sufficiency and I will hate my misplaced fear of man. I will wish it would all disappear. Because I will know that none of it mattered. None of that momentary stuff mattered. 

Lord, help me to not waste a single opportunity, a single moment for my own benefit... help me do it all for you. Let me not live on earth in such a way as to evoke heavenly regrets. But let me live on earth in such a way as to earn heavenly rewards -- all of which I will cast at your feet as my meager offering.

Lord, help me to remember who I am. I am a warrior dressed in the armor of God. I am not just a conqueror, but more than a conqueror. Through him who loved me. I am beloved and cherished and prized and treasured. I have the power of heaven within me. I have the Almighty God on my side. I am a servant of the Most High God. I am not condemned. I am not cast out. I am not insignificant, although I am completely unworthy. I am nothing on my own yet Someone thought I was worth everything.

I am not unloved or unable or unseen or unheard. For in the Throne Room of heaven, my every plea has an audience with the Holy One. Before the words form on my lips, they are known. Because I am known. I-- in my wretched, crazy, train wreck state -- am a source of delight to the Great I Am. Not because of my petty efforts but because of the lavish love of my Father.

He knows me better than anyone else, yet he loves me more than anyone else.

And I am applauded by a great cloud of witnesses who scream and cheer for me to run my race. And not just at the finish line where the glory and accomplishment are obvious. But all along the route. On the lonely back roads, where each step feels insignificant. On the uphill climb when I stumble and fall and sit on the curb, sulking. On the twists and turns and the endless stretches of monotonous effort where no end is in sight. Where I falter. Where I gasp for air. Where I sweat and strain. When one foot in front of the other feels like it leads me no where. Because everything done feels mundane and meticulous. 

All along the way.

In every page of my story.

In every day of my calendar.

In every single moment in time.

A great cloud of witnesses is cheering and yelling and calling my  name. They're holding up signs and making whistle sounds and wearing my name on their shirt.

They've all run their race.

Some were short sprints.

Over too soon.

Others were marathons and even ultra-marathons.

They've all crossed the finish line and collapsed in a heap at the feet of the Father. As he told them well done.

They've all tasted the ultimate victory. Of running and finishing. They've all broken the tape and known that every painful, endless, mundane step was worth it.

So worth it.

The thrill of the finish leads to an everlasting joy.

So they crowd the route. And they cheer.

They surrounds us on our paths. 

Screaming, "Throw off everything that hinders you!"

And, "Be rid of the sin that entangles you!"

They are chanting our name, along with these admonitions--

"Run with perseverance!"

"Fix your eyes on Jesus!"

"Remember! Jesus is the author of your story! He is the one who perfects your faith and empowers your race!"

The great cloud of witnesses remind us, even on the hardest part of our race, when we are red faced and overheated and ready to throw in the towel-- they remind us.

"You can endure! You can make it through the opposition, on the big hills and the low valleys and through all the weariness!"

"Don't lose heart!" they yell.  

"Remember-- Jesus endured. So that you can endure!"

For the crowd knows what we must remember. When Jesus struggled, he considered the joy set before him. 

We are part of that joy. 

The joy of redeeming the children of God back to their Father.

So, he set his eyes on the finish line, while he walked the Via De La Rosa, stumbling under the weight of the cross.

Our cross.

Heavy with our sins.

He set his eyes on the finish line, as the nails pierced his hands and his feet.

As the cross was hoisted into position and the agony became unbearable.

He endured.

He set his eyes on the joy of paying our debt.

And that joy was enough. To press him forward.

Until he could say--

"It is finished."

Oh, yes. We can finish our race. We can run with perseverance. We can throw off all that hinders and entangles us. We can run hard and fast, and get through the times we need to go slow and steady, or even stop to catch our breaths. 

We can strain our ears to listen to the great cloud of witnesses.


Finish strong!

It all matters!

Fix your eyes on the One at the finish line who said for us, "It is finished!"

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