You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)
I have a question for all of you who have ever been involved in running throughout your life, either for exercise or for competition: “What is the longest distance you ever ran?” Only a very few of you could answer that your longest run was 26.2 miles, the distance of a marathon. “Back in the day,” before my knees became so problematic, my favorite distance was a 10K run – 6.2 miles. Frankly, if I had been expected to run another 20 miles, I would have needed my car to finish the race! I’m sure some of you preferred the sprints — all-out speed competitions for relatively short distances of 100 yards or more.
Here is the point: the Christian life would be very easy to live if it were only a sprint and not a marathon. Then we could simply run —
- A hundred-yard dash of devotion
- A quarter-mile sprint of service
- A half-lap of loving our neighbor as ourselves
But in God’s economy, unless He brings you home immediately after your conversion (as He did with the good thief who died next to Jesus), the Christian life has been divinely designed to be a long, grueling marathon, not a short sprint. Noah spent the lion’s share of a century on his boat-building project. Moses spent forty years on the back side of the desert as God was preparing him to deliver the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. David waited years after God had him anointed as king before he took possession of the throne. The list of biblical examples is long, and the lives of all these saints show us that God has called us to live lives marked by endurance, which is a requirement for living a life that is pleasing to God.
One final point about this marathon we are running. It’s never a straight and comfortable course that we travel. Often it is much more like an obstacle course, marked by barriers, steep hills, seemingly unsurpassable roadblocks, and many unexpected twists and turns. Yet we are called to persevere along whatever path God sets before us with a sustained determination until we reach our final destination.
And never forget this: your marathon race is never to be run in your own strength. God has given you and will give you everything you need to do everything He has called you to do (2 Peter 1:3) . . . as long as you determine to persevere in His strength and not your own.
Christian . . . How well have you been running your race? To be sure, it’s a long and frequently difficult road, but God has promised to make sure you have two things with you every step of the way: His power and His presence. Remember that He has promised never to leave you or forsake you! That knowledge makes all the difference in making sure we will cross the finish line filled with the joy of our Lord, which is our great strength.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!