Pressing On

By: David Stephens
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and prefects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Eleven years ago, when we lived in Missouri, I decided to challenge myself in recognition of my 50th birthday. I signed up for a marathon. I had been running some - 5-milers mainly, but I was nowhere near ready for a 26-mile run. I downloaded a marathon training program and followed it diligently. I read articles about running marathons and spoke to several friends who had completed this feat so that I would know what to expect. I felt ready.

Then the big day came. My wife and I drove to Northwest Arkansas where the marathon would be held. I was a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous) as we approached the starting point. But I knew that I had trained well and was ready.

Or so I thought.

My first warning sign should have been the huge hill that was at the starting line. The first of many huge hills. Suffice it to say, this marathon was a beast. Not only were there many monster hills, but a quarter of the way in, the wind picked up and a torrential rain began to fall. I learned later that there were tornado warnings in the county.

I began to think that I wouldn’t finish. I was tired from running up mountains, drenched in the pouring rain and pummeled by the merciless driving winds. But I finished - cold, wet and exhausted. I was able to finish because of my wife. You see, she drove the marathon route and, at the perfect times, would stop and wait for me. She held up a homemade sign with pictures of our three young children with the words, “We’re proud of you Daddy” in bold letters. She would shout “I love you” and “You can do this.” At times when I thought I couldn’t run another step, I would see her up ahead with her sign. I would hear her voice, see the pictures of my kids, and find the strength to run a little further. I kept my eyes open for her and my ears tuned in to the sound of her voice.

It has occurred to me that my marathon is an analogy for my faith journey.

You see, no matter how hard I prepare, and no matter how perfectly I think I have planned my life out, it seldom works out as I anticipate. The rains come and the winds blow. The hills seem insurmountable. I become exhausted from my struggle with sin.

And Jesus sees. He knows my struggles, my disappointments, my failures. And in spite of all of this, the one who is writing and perfecting my faith story is with me. He shows up. He cheers me on. He says, “I see you, David. I see your struggle and your failures. I see you and I’m here. I’m always here. I’ll always be here.”

And so I press on. I move past the pain and the disappointment and the struggles with sin. I strip off the weight that slows me down and the sin that trips me up. I look for Him and I find Him, at just the right time and in just the right place.

He is faithful and true and constant.

He is the King.

He is your Father. Look for Him.
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