My feet pounded the rough black pavement.
My lungs grew tighter and tighter with each passing step, screaming for air.
My legs ached, begging to just. stop.
My inner dialogue raged: It’s not worth it. Who cares? No one will know if you stop. You already ran far enough. You’re tired. It doesn’t matter.
I struggled to coach myself: keep going, you’re not done yet.
You have not reached the goal.
My mind, weary of trying, weary of pushing forward, commands my worn body to lift its right foot, and then its left.
And that verse pulses through my mind:
…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
And this one.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
And those verses, they kept me going.
Because this life? It’s a race.
A long, long race.
Because the flesh is weak. And bodies will ache, and legs will grow weary, and it won’t seem worth it.
Because it will require endurance, and training, and purpose driven steps.
So we must have a goal. It is vital to finishing, and finishing well.
Because there must always be a “why” to motivate actions and drive excellence.
And this, this is the why of all whys.
The upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The joy set before us.
Because it is a calling. A high calling.
There is joy. Ahead of you. Don’t miss that.
Joy bound deep within seeing and experiencing Jesus Christ.
The two are vitally connected. Your joy and His glory.
And that matchless prize is attained one. way. only.
By fixing our eyes on Jesus. Who. For the joy set before Him, endured the cross.
He too endured the race for a very specific reason.
And just like the water stations along a race, you will be greeted with portions of that joy even now. That grace. Just enough nourishment to nudge you on to the greatest joy of all.
That is the purpose. That is the reason.
The reason we push on when it hurts, when it’s hard, when we want to curl up and cry because we are just so. so. done.
So we learn to defeat sin with superior pleasure and keep going with divine purpose.
I too, often feel like I am running a very long race (amen?), pushing forward when I’m tired and worn out as I strive to do this life thing and attain my master’s degree and do all that is required of me in the roles I call my own.
Because. I am telling you. This? It’s hard. the late hours. The emotional drain. The years I’ve invested. Giving up much.
But I push on for the goal, the prize. Because the end is worth it.
In this thing called life. In my marathon, in your marathon, the struggles are training, training that creates the very essence of an athlete.
Breaking down muscles and rebuilding them. New. Strengthened.
And faith. Real, genuine faith. Faith that is tested by fire.
So we can emerge on the other side.
Reveling in the smooth drink of joy washing our parched throats and nourishing our tired bodies.
Just as the finish line is much sweeter after months of training and discipline for an athlete.
So too will your finish line be much sweeter after you’ve persevered.
For the joy set before you. That you might experience it in its full splendor.
Hang in there. “Do not grow weary in doing good.” Might you be refreshed as you run. With your eyes fixed on the prize.
Fixed on the “why” that makes it all worth it.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
You can read another take on this verse here.
Thank you for reading!