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. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ~ Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
I get so tired sometimes. I don’t know about you, but it often seems that the more you do for God, the more He requires that you do.
I understand that the race we run is not a sprint, but a marathon. The scripture above admonishes us run the race that God has specifically laid out for us. My race is not your race. And your race is not my race. But God designs a race with specific benchmarks and goals for each of us to accomplish. For you, it might be to win a political election, or stand up against evildoers at work or stop a protest or a riot. Or to raise a family or be a provider or to go back to school.
For me, it is to preach, teach and deliver the gospel the best way I know how.
He has a different race for each of us. And each of us is given specific talents to do the exact things He has called us to do. Each challenge we face strengthens us to face the next challenge. Before David killed Goliath, he had killed lions and bears who had threatened his sheep (1 Samuel 17:36). God didn’t just call him to kill Goliath out of the blue – He prepared David by sharpening his skill by facing lesser threats. Both a lion and a bear were serious threats, just not on the same level as Goliath. And it was because David first faced those other challenges, that he was able to confidently and victoriously face Goliath.
David did not in fact simply rely on his ability to kill with a sling. He relied instead on his faith in God.
And that is what we must all do.
Rather than considering the task before us and how difficult it will be to ‘finish’ our race, we should instead consider the faithfulness of God. He has equipped us and is training us to accomplish the things He would like us to complete. If He wants you to be a speaker, He gives you opportunities to speak. But you’d have to start with small crowds or small groups before you’re ready to speak in front of a huge auditorium. If He wanted you to be a singer, He would allow you to sing to small groups. You’d probably sing with your school choir or an a capella group before you were ready to sing on stage at Carnegie Hall. And if you're meant to be a teacher, you will probably start off modestly, teaching a small group before moving on to more sophisticated work.
Whatever God wants you to do, you can be sure He is training you in its completion.
He will never ask you to do something for which you are unprepared. Whatever you are doing today – right now – is preparing you to finish your ‘race.’ There is a reason and a purpose behind all our ‘training’ even if we don’t see it for ourselves. And ultimately, He offers Himself – through the work of Jesus Christ – to strengthen us through the process.
So, in the end, you can rely both on your training and your faith in God. And be sure that He will be there to strengthen you where you are weak. When you hit that mile when you no longer feel like you can endure, He will be by your side to strengthen and protect you. When you regain your senses and your training kicks in, you will realize the path that has led you to where you currently are. And understand that has all been worth it – the training, the time, the faith in God – and that you do indeed have what it takes to run your ‘race’ until the end.
Trust in God.
And you too will endure.