When I hear the words endurance training, I immediately think of a runner completing a rigorous series of workout sessions. They demonstrate heightened awareness and focus of what goes in their mouths, as well as which exercises in specific order that will provide their desired results…stamina.
Faith, like any race in life, requires endurance; the ability to withstand hardships. The capacity to continue to trudge forward in the most stressful of times. It seems so much of the time that I hear people speaking of their faith in the good times, but when the storms of life come roaring in the front door, one of two responses to faith appears. Either they make an overwhelming commitment to finish the race with a faith greater than they have ever experienced. Or, they quite simply give up.
Giving up when times get tough never has been part of God’s plan. Before the beginning of time He knew that sin would enter our world, and because of it we would face troubles. He knew it, and yet loves us so much that He included these directions in Hebrews 12. “Lay aside every weight and sin…”
In today’s language Hebrews 12:1 might read drop from your shoulders all of the weight caused by sin and worry before you get twisted up in it.
That is exactly what we do you know. We get so caught up in the drama, and the expectations of this world, that we push aside what is important and then feel guilty for doing it. We get angry, cut people down, and jockey for position. We are convinced that we must be the best of the best. And he who dies with the most toys wins! Those sins that we commit racing to the front of the pack start to get heavy as we heap each one on our shoulders. We carry so much sin around that our knees begin to buckle under the weight. We most certainly are not in physical nor mental condition necessary to run a race. Why? Because we have taken our eyes off of the finish line; the throne of God.
God tells us that this will happen, and then goes on and tells us to lay it all down. Drop the backpack of weighty burdens you continue to carry around. Stop looking at what the world says you need to do to and run the race. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Why Jesus? Because He won the race! He is the embodiment of faith.
Jesus is, “the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Do you see it?
Even Jesus became weary and struggled. He endured to finish the race. I am certain there were times He would like to have dropped out because the training was entirely too rigorous. Yet He never did. Jesus endured every storm, every pothole, every flood and every mountain that got in His way all the way to the point of death; all because He knew in faith that He would achieve the prize…a seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
The prize at the end of the race is God. Eternal life in heaven Dear One! Jesus is reason we have faith! He had the ability to withstand the war that man waged against Him. He is the one who trained day in and day out through perseverance n prayer, knowing and trusting that God is who He says He is and will what He says He will do. Jesus is the one who trusted Father God…He put His faith to work.
Faith is never easy. It requires stamina, endurance, and requires focus. Like any race, faith requires training and conditioning. We will be stretched beyond what we ever thought possible. We will be asked to put down things that mean the world to us. We will have to face turmoil, hostility, danger, and a multitude of battles in our lives. And then, just when we think we can’t take one more step, our faith will allow us to take just one more step. Our faith will carry us through, because our God tells us that when we trust Him, He will always carry us through.
Dear One, training for this race called life will never be easy. Oh, but the Joy that God will provide us as we persevere and endure the challenge; it’s that joy that will make it all worth while. Don’t you give up. You have a race to finish. Keep your eyes on Jesus. All Mighty God will be cheering you on when you arrive at the finish line, and safely into His loving arms.