Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 2:2-4
The only one who can beat me is me. ~Michael Johnson
In the next part of the book Run to Win, Christine Caine talks about how marathon runners believe that the race is worth the effort. She mentions how Michael Johnson a sprint runner spent all those years not eating pizza and getting up at the crack of dawn to train for an event that lasted only a couple of minutes and a ceremony that only lasted as long as the national anthem takes to play. She by no means is belittling what Johnson achieved, but pointing out how we find the worth in the effort of receiving honors from men, but our passion wanes when we are looking for honors from God. As I write this post, my heart is heavy because two major battles are going on in my life. First, my Dad has a very large blood clot in his leg; he is 84, so it’s a very big thing at his age. Really, it’s a big thing at any age. The other is we lost one of our cars to a blown gasket and have to buy a new one, which we cannot really afford right now. My Pastor always says that we are heading out of a trial, are in the midst of one, or heading into one. Sometimes life can throw some major curve balls at you and you wonder is it really worth the effort?
In the above verses, James gives us some great reasons that make it worth the effort. The first reason is it builds our endurance. When we push through the trials, we gain endurance to continue on, just as a marathon runner as he pushes through the wall finds the endurance to continue. In our marathon, we have to push through the barriers of regret, failure, and situations. As we push through those barriers, we find endurance. The type of endurance we are speaking about is spiritual endurance, which is wisdom.
The next thing that happens with endurance is we grow. We mature, we are more complete in God, or to put it better, God is more complete in us. As a runner who gains endurance as we push through all the barriers, we grow our endurance. That means instead of dropping at mile two we grow to get through to mile three and so on and on. The growing process in our faith never stops. Some runners work their way up to doing a 50-mile run. The growth never stops until our time on this earth has ended. To me if I try to do a 50-mile run I think my time on this earth may be limited.
As we endure, as we grow the following thing happens, we are no longer in need. When you move from being a baby to a mature adult, you no longer need your parents to tell you to do those basic things to keep life going. Runners as well learn to move from the training into the event mode. Event mode is when your focus is on that finish line and nothing can distract you from that. Let me put it a different way, you will face distractions, but your focus is still to the goal of finishing the race. Right now, I feel like my life is unraveling before me. I also know that God has brought me through some major obstacles in my life. I have nothing to worry about because I know that God is going to do some amazing things and will do it in His time. I am keeping my eye on the finish line and aware of my situations around me. People may say to me you are not in reality. Reality to me is God taking the bad and making it good.
Reality knows God is going to build our endurance by testing. Grow us so that we can handle more and not have to be needy baby Christians. Yes, I am concerned about my Dad, I am concerned about how I am going to get another vehicle, but I am not going to allow a negative attitude take away my joy of living for God. As Johnson put in the above quote, the only person who can beat me is me. Is it worth the effort? I say yes it is. We gain wisdom and learn a ton of stuff about ourselves that we never knew before. In the process, we can be an amazing strength to someone who has to go through the same thing we did. God’s eternal glory is always worth the effort.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.