One step at a time we take, as we realize that our faith is not just a one and done phenomenon; but rather a lifetime of drawing closer to God through the highs and lows of life, and believe me their will be both. Yet, despite the peace and joy that God brings, drawing close is still an intentional daily choice to stay cultivated and fresh.
In the beginning of our journey, we are excited about the adventure. This newness drives us to seek God in a deeper way, as true forgiveness is at the forefront of our minds, and we are thrilled to share the hope we have. Yet as life presses on we tend to forget. Life, trials, hardships and busyness chip away at the reminders of what makes a relationship with God so beautiful.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
We take for granted this new life, this new hope, and this new joy. Our salvation becomes like one of the many trophies on our shelf. Sitting there collecting dust in the back drop of our mind.
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power.
2 Timothy 3:5
My first track competition reminds me of how easy it is to get burned out in any long journey. Whether life here on this earth, or running track, they both take preparation and training to finish the race strong.
I was 13 years old, and just entered my first track competition. I was pretty much convinced that my speed would allow me to be quite the competitor. Normally I would run short sprints, but that did not phase me. I signed up for 3 track meets in one day with confidence, each varying in lengths. The first two track meets went very well, they were a 400 and 800 meter dash. I placed. I ran hard.
Then came the longer race. I set myself up, just as before, the whistle blew and I was off, running my heart out. But about 3/4 through the race my body gave out from sheer exhaustion. I felt like I had jello for legs. I then started jogging, hoping to maintain some kind of competitive edge, but even my jog soon turned to walking. As I watched my competitor run past me, you could see the disappointment written all over my face, as well as, I am sure a beet red face from lack of oxygen!
But honestly, I didn’t have any one to blame but myself. I didn’t practice or prepare for the race, I assumed I could complete the race strong merely based on the fact I could run fast. I was wrong.
So how do we finish the race strong? How do we live a life that God will say “well done thy good and faithful servant?” (Matthew 25:23)
How to Finish Strong
Stay connected to God
We need to stay connected to God through prayer and Bible reading. When we lose sight of who God is, we forget what race we are running. We forget that God is worth running for. Our mind sways to temporary things that neither satisfy nor complete us.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Be encouraged/accountable to other believers
Please don’t try to run this race on your own. Sometimes we get this false notion that we will be more effective if we plow forward alone. We can work on our own schedules and be totally flexible for whatever God has called us to. Yet, God paints a different picture, one of fellowship. Bonds that make us stronger not weaker. I highly encourage joining a Bible study and a church. Places that put God first, and keep us focused, and encouraged.
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Apply what you have learned
Don’t just memorize the word of God without applying it. What is knowledge without following through? God says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) Do you apply this? Have you paired the Bible down to verses you believe is truth, instead of taking the entirety of the Bible and letting it transform your life and those around you?
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Share with others
A faith walk of stepping out of our comfort zones to express to others the hope we have. Trusting God for where we lack; uncertain of the outcome, but knowing “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Doing this requires a lot of prayer.
When we do things completely within the realm of our comfort, without stepping beyond ourselves I don’t think we can truly embrace the faith and trust that lead us into a deeper relationship with Christ.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10
These faith moments, is one of the ways that stir us on. They draw us closer to God, because He is bigger than us, and we slowly learn through blood, sweat and tears that God can be trusted through it all. God makes the race exciting, He makes it worth fighting for, as we watch every day miracles unfurl before us.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Photo Credit: by Ryan McGuire