This week's memory verse:
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 1:6
I began reading my Bible study lesson today and immediately thought..."Here we go again...Paul and his 'running the race' analogy!" Let me tell you...I am sure there are those who are athletic, who have run in races and marathons that TRULY understand this. But, unfortunately, the only races I have ever been in (and NEVER won!) were in gym class.
I know, the above paragraph seems pretty negative for the "glass is half full" kind of gal I am, doesn't it? Perhaps this attitude, along with the fact that running is NOT my idea of a good time, is what keeps me from reaching some of my goals. There are many things that I have worked hard for and have accomplished, so I get the idea. But, it seems that a runner's "never give up, keep pushing until you get there" mentality is hard for me in some areas of my life.
I have read that Paul uses the analogy of the race because the people he was writing to were familiar with running races, in games like the Olympics. It was something they understood...an analogy that they would get. Only, he wasn't talking about a race...he was talking about our human life and eternity.
Our journey to eternity, a life in heaven with God FOREVER should be our only focus...we should be giving it everything we've got. No sloppy living but staying alert, keeping our minds and hearts in top "Christ-like" condition. We don't want to be telling everyone about the joys of heaven and miss out on it ourselves! (1Corinthians 9:24-27 in my own words)
When we have moments, days, months or even years of trials and hardships, our faith is tested. If we hang on to that faith and hope of eternity during those tough times, we learn perseverance...we learn to lean on God and not give up or give in. And Sometimes, we do give up on our faith for a time...but God has a way of drawing us back to him. Learning to trust in a God we can't see is hard...it is a process that lasts our whole lives. It makes us mature in our faith and complete in God's eyes. (James 1:2-4)
The hardships and trials we are facing now are just temporary. Our few years here on earth are but a blink of an eye in heaven. The pain and discomfort we experience in our lives will be overcome by the renewal God has in store for us.
I once sang the song "I Can Only Imagine" at my friend's father's funeral. That song talks about how we can only imagine what heaven and eternity will be like...we don't really know and we WON'T know...until we get there.
Skeptics may say it is a waste to live your life in hopes of a life in heaven that we aren't even sure exists. I disagree. Focusing and believing in something unseen takes faith, and faith gives us hope....hope in a better life to come. I know people who don't have faith OR hope, and honestly, they are part of what makes this life on earth less pleasant! Their hopeless life makes them miserable and they want everyone around them to be miserable too.
Oswald Chambers once said, "perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen."
This message was meant for me today. Every now and then, I get discouraged...I feel overwhelmed and spinning out of control. Today I am reminded of what I know and believe...this discouragement I feel is only temporary. Even though I am NOT a runner...I need to stay on the track and finish the race. I think I will just WALK it out...what does it matter, as long as I cross the finish line and get my reward!