Boast In The Lord January 17th, 2023

Hebrews 12:1-2a, NIV
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

I have discovered that there are many parallels between training for races and undergoing the training necessary for my spiritual journey and the roads God has set aside for me to travel. That’s why these verses in Hebrews are so meaningful to me. 
When I started running distances years ago, I started by running one property length at a time before I had to walk the rest of the way. Each time I went out, I tried to get a little further than the time before. I believe God used the runner as an analogy to our journey with Him on this side of heaven because we need a lot of the same things. 
Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”.  Notice that there’s no mention of the experience being without pain and discomfort. You may not be a runner or even understand why someone would run when no one is chasing them, but the spiritual applications from these verses can be life-changing, if we let them.  
Many of the journeys in my life have been filled with obstacles, failures, and giant mountains to climb. Each one of them taught me something new about the heart of God and required me to evaluate and confess the frailties and failings of my own heart. As a result, each journey made me stronger in Christ and able to conquer the uphill climbs I could not have done on my own. Perseverance. 
A runner’s diet consists of lots of protein (for muscle health and recovery), carbohydrates (for energy and to help burn the protein), and healthy fats (which serve as reserves for energy when everything else has burned up). In my spiritual journey, I’ve grown to understand that when I “go light” on His word and on prayer time, my strength and wisdom for the road suffer. Each step feels like there’s bricks on my feet. It’s the same with a runner who “goes light” on fuel for the body. My spirit needs God’s word to thrive and Christ’s life in me also prevents me from getting thirsty. (John 4:14) Just like I wouldn’t go out for a run without food and water, I can’t live my life with strength and perseverance without Scripture and prayer to feed my spirit.
Training requires a lot of commitment and discipline to build stamina as well as to mentally be able to push through the tired and the “I don’t feel like its”. My spiritual journey is the same way. In those difficult times, my spirit learns to respond better to the obstacles and challenges if I lean into God.  I talk to Him a lot when I’m out running. Sometimes it’s worship, sometimes it’s prayer, and occasionally there may or may not be some pleading to get me up a hill. There’s been so many times in my life when the journey has been full of twists and turns, potholes, and mountains. Those journeys are exhausting. My flesh can easily take over and before I know it the weight of bad attitudes, brokenness, and thoughts of defeat and insecurity bring me to my knees. But it’s when I’m on my knees and the cry of my heart is “Lord, please, get me up this hill.” that His strength comes to my rescue. 
If you find yourself running on empty right now, start small. Connect or reconnect with the One Who Died for You through conversation (prayer) and reading His love letter to you (Scripture). He loves you.

“Lord, thank you that everything I need can be found in You. I cannot run the race you have set out for me on my own. I need You and sometimes I get really tired and overwhelmed.  Help me to run the race with perseverance and to honor You in how I run it. And when the difficulties and personal failures come, Lord thank you that You are there to meet me where I am and to provide what I need. In Jesus Name, Amen”

Debbie Ericksen

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