Friday, November 6, 2015

Resolve to Finish Well

I pulled up to the parking lot one Saturday morning in January. The sun was shining but it was a cool 40 degrees which caused my exposed skin to go into pimple shock. I saw lots of people gathering in a line to pick up their registration bags. Most people had a buddy or a group with them as it is easier to attempt the seemingly impossible if someone else is by your side.

Following the lead of others, I came to the end of the line, gave my name and age, and picked up my registration bag complete with number 525 and (my favorite part) a t-shirt. I was ready... or at least I thought I was. I had prepared for months. This was a personal goal I had set for myself and I was determined to finish my first (and last) half marathon. One race, 13.1 miles.

In front of the starting line I stood ready. With my headphones, rock music, water bottle, and calorie 'gummies' strapped on, my pulse picked up; nervous but excited. With my stop watch in hand, I hear the gun, push the button and begin to set my pace.

Paul tells us to be prepared, in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2) The race of life is tough and fraught with many curves, hills, rocks, and pot holes. There are times that we will have to run up rocky hills and there are times we run into a sharp curves. Situations narrow the road and crowd the runners disabling them from keeping pace. I have experienced those times in my life. Many times, in fact. Unfortunately, I failed to prepare adequately. I fell... a lot.

Training for a half marathon takes a lot of time and energy. You build up endurance for running long distances by increasing mileage in small incremental steps. The more you train, the easier it gets. Once you get past mile 5, your body adjusts and believe it or not, it seems easier. But, you can't stop and take long breaks between workouts. When you do your conditioning will regress and it is harder to get back where you left off.

Preparation to handle life's hills and curves requires adequate and intentional training. Looking back, there were seasons in my life when I would have reacted differently to situations had I been adequately trained. I read the Bible from time to time, but it wasn't nearly enough to prepare me for what experiences I faced in my past. For years my Bible collected dust on my book shelf. Instead of walking with God through His Word I'd put my 'jammies' on and plop myself on the couch. Not prepared for anything other than to watch a movie. A couch potato; not in my physical life, but my spiritual life. Looking back, this was exactly why I wasn't prepared when live's race started getting tougher.

I knew about the first half mile, of that half marathon, this race wasn't going to be easy. I started feeling some pain in my knees and I knew exactly why. The weekend before, I wanted to see if I would be able to run that distance so I ran all 13.1 miles one week before this race. BIG mistake! My inexperience in training for long distance running caused me to over train and inflame the tendons in my knees. I was in pain but I refused to stop. I wanted to prove to myself that I could run all 13.1 miles without walking. I was NOT going to give up.

For 2 hours and 16 minutes I ran with excruciating pain in my knees. The entire race, I kept thinking I WILL finish well! I WILL finish this race and beat my time! I don't know if you call that tenacity, determination, or stupidity, but I call resolve.

I am in a new season in my life now and I want to have that same resolve as I walk in faith in Jesus Christ. In the verb tense, to resolve is to decide firmly on the course of action. 

Life throws a lot of curves. There are days you may coast smoothly, but you can just about guarantee you are going to meet a wicked hill. We will experience some excruciating pain so I want to be prepared. I want to be trained up and be able to handle all that life throws at me. I want to have such resolve in my faith and trust in God that I will never waiver in my obedience or thankfulness of His work in me and through me no matter what the road of life brings.

God wrote life's training manual. Jesus is my coach and the Holy Spirit is my inspiration.

When I meet my coach, I want to be able to say....

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

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