Faith that Won't Quit
Our daughter, Rachel, trained for and ran in the Carmel Marathon in 2016. She did something her father has never done (and will never do). You see, I have never enjoyed running. No, that's not right. I dislike running. Well, actually I hate running. I have never aspired to run a marathon. Cudo's to our daughter!
Completing that marathon was a huge thing for Rachel. She trained for months. She overcame some physical reactions during the marathon that could easily have sidelined her. At times she slowed to a walk. But she kept going. And she finished!
I have never run in a marathon, but I do compete in the marathon of faith. You see, faith in Jesus Christ is not a 100 meter dash. It's not making a personal commitment to Jesus, diving in to try to live a holy life for Him, and becoming a mature disciple in a matter of a few weeks. That kind of headlong rush cannot be sustained for the long haul of a lifetime. Some have tried, have crashed and burned, and have given up on faith.
Faith is a marathon. Developing the faith of a mature follower of Jesus Christ takes a lifetime. Faith is fighting through opposition and fatigue and temptation and failure. Faith keeps going with Jesus because there is a finish line ahead, and Jesus waits to tell us, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21) Faith takes training and perseverance. Faith is not easy, but it is rewarding. Faith refuses to quit.
A marathon tests everything that is in an athlete. And crossing the finish line is a victory in itself. Few marathoners run at an elite level. Most marathoners have two concrete goals: to finish and to go for a personal best.
Faith tests everything in a disciple. Faith tests our character and integrity. It demands we do the right thing, whatever the cost. Faith tests our relationships. It compels us to love and forgive when it's most difficult - even to love our enemies. Faith tests our willingness to sacrifice and serve. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Faith tests our very purpose for living. Will I live for myself, or live for the glory of God?
Faith in Jesus Christ withstands the tests! The apostle Paul said, "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day." (2 Timothy 1:12) What I have committed to Jesus will be guarded and remain safe until the day I stand before Him and give an account of my life. He will keep His promises. In the end there will be victory - not because I am good, but because the One to whom I have entrusted everything does not fail.
These things are important to remember when we are discouraged and tired. They keep us going when we want to quit. It doesn't matter if others seem more successful at walking by faith or seem to have more purpose or fruit or success in their lives. We are after our personal best with Jesus.
Finishing is what counts. Going on is what is important. Jesus runs beside us in the race of life. We are never alone, and we can always find strength in Him. At the end there is joy. At the end Jesus says, "Well done!" And that's enough for me to keep going.