|Run with Endurance- Acrylic Painting by Vicky Kaseorg|
I ran a practice 10k, just to see how fast I could do it. I was pleased afterwards, and immediately checked the times of people my age in two Charlotte-area races last year. I would have won my age category (60-69) with the time I ran yesterday! Well, to be completely honest, I am not quite 60 yet...but will be in August...and I doubt I will slow down in two months. So now I have this bee in my bonnet....
I kind of want to enter a race. My second surgery is August 1. So I figure, I am now 6-weeks post mastectomy, and ran at a competitive pace for my age. I should be ready then for an October race after the August surgery, right?
Well, get this! There is a late October race in Charleston, SC! That is one of my favorite places on earth and the race course goes over the magnificent new Connector bridge over the harbor. I checked the stats on last year's winner in my division. My time yesterday beat the winner's! I think I ought to do it.
I was never a super fast runner. Back in the days when I did race, I was always middle of the pack. But by the time folks hit 60, they just don't seem to care about running so much anymore. Suddenly, I am an elite runner...at least in the races for the granny division. I'm not fast, but I have always loved running and have been a runner for 45 years. In middle school, I was the fastest girl, but still didn't get picked for dodge-ball till the pickin's were slim. Speed alone doesn't cut it in middle school.
Perusing the 2015 Charleston race results, I was a little surprised to see an 86-year old's time just a tad slower than mine. She must have really good genes. Good thing she's not in my age division...
Speaking of races, I heard a sermon about 'finishing the race' while driving home from Virginia. In the spiritual life, many people are all gun-ho about following God when they first come to faith, and they start well. However, it is easy to lose heart, lose interest, and decide the race is not as easy as just plopping on the wayside and snacking on berries. Sadly, the Bible is filled with stories of people who didn't finish well. King Saul, Samson, Ananias and Sapphira, Balaam, Judas....
The Christian "run" should be one of growth. We begin the race as babies of the word, but we should not still be babies when we end. John Ritenbaugh said: However, laziness plays a large part in why we do not grow. God expects us to work, though we will not earn salvation by it. We grow because of work, by overcoming problems. If we are too lazy to work at overcoming things, though we may be in God's Kingdom, we are not going to reap the rewards God's promises to overcomers.
Starting well is not nearly as important as finishing well. We are to endure and overcome, despite struggles along the way, despite selfish desires having to be tabled, despite not understanding God's plan but trying to obey Him anyway...that is what matters. Run with endurance the race set before you. Don't give up because it is hard, or inconvenient, or not fun, or too taxing, or even because you are a lousy runner compared to everyone else.
We don't have to win to finish well. We just have to keep our eyes on Jesus the whole way. Finishing well is winning. Even if we have only enough strength left to crawl across the finish line, we win the prize, and are given the crown of eternal life. The pain is but a moment. The reward is forever.
Yesterday, I heard again from the mama who chose life at the abortion center last week but then was wavering in her resolve. She is an example of someone who started well, but may not finish well. She is feeling depressed over the pressure of the boyfriend to abort, and the difficulty of her circumstances. I counseled her to remember how much better she felt last week when she listened to her conscience.
"I know what's right," she said, "But I don't want to raise this baby alone."
"You showed courage and moral conviction in leaving the abortion center! Don't give up now!" Please pray with me for this overwhelmed woman. She is on the cusp of faith, but it is weak. Strengthen her Lord!
Meanwhile, I leave soon to the sidewalks of the abortion center again, hoping to reach the women God has prepared in advance for me to encounter.
More of you, Lord. Less of me. Keep me strong till I complete the work you have asked of me, faithful till I cross the finish line.
I am keeping my eyes on Jesus, as long as the race is still being run, the prize still within my grasp. I don't want to drop out of the race when the stakes are so high.
Painting above: acrylic, 11x16, if interested contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.