Saturday, April 13, 2013
Run With Patience
Running with patience (Hebrews 12:1) seems like a contradiction. At the instant the starter’s pistol fires, the sprinter explodes from his crouched, ready position into energy powering down the track. If we have to run to catch the bus, or to remind our children of something before they pedal out of sight, we race to get there as fast as we can.
But the Christian “walk” is just that – more of a marathon than a sprint, often slowing to a walk. We wait patiently to catch the next surge of energy and direction our Lord provides exactly when it is needed (Isaiah 40:31; Proverbs 3:6). At times while we’re waiting on the Lord we’re crawling at what seems to be a snail’s pace, but as long as our direction is toward Him, we can have faith that we are on track.
At times the onslaught of the opponents is so fierce that we cannot even advance. At those times we must stand fast and hold our ground, knowing what and Whom we believe (1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8). If we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).
To regain our momentum, we must set aside whatever is slowing our progress. Overt sins are surely a hindrance keeping us from fellowship with God and keeping us on the bench rather than actively engaged in the race. But even those habits and time-spenders that are not sinful, but that keep us from God’s best, slow us down (Hebrews 12:1)
But no matter how faint we may feel during this race (Isaiah 40:29-31; Galatians 6:9), and what hurdles and road blocks we encounter, we can have peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We can have patience as we await the visible manifestation of His invisible working of all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Our peace in the Lord (Isaiah 26:3) comes from knowing that if we stumble or grow too weary to stand, He will tenderly pick us up and carry us across the finish line (Isaiah 40:11).
God keeps us from falling when we stumble because He sees as faultless through the perfect righteousness of His Son (Jude 1:24-25), At the moment of salvation through faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), the Holy Spirit placed us at the starting gate of this great race. He energizes us for the journey, reminds us of our goal and of the prize, and guides us through treacherous hazards and road conditions. Having set us on track, He will empower us to complete the race (Phillipians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:12)
Sometimes we joke that we don’t want to pray for patience, because patience is often the fruit of trials, tribulations, and suffering (Romans 5:3-4). Yet it is at these times that God’s power reveals itself most fully, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). As trials bring us to our knees, we draw closer to Him in prayer. Our faith grows, and with it our patience.
Unlike earthly races, there is not only one victor (1 Corinthians 9:24), for all who run for Him will win the prize of seeing Jesus face to face as we break the ribbon crossing over into Heaven, and spending eternity with Him there. There is no need for competition with the other runners, as we all pull together to help one another complete the race. We are surrounded by untold numbers of witnesses cheering us onward from the heavenlies, but ideally our fellow Christians here on earth also (Hebrews 12:1).
I am reminded of a true story from the Special Olympics of learning-disabled children running a race. At the starters’ pistol all took off, but one tripped and fell. All the others stopped running, turned back, helped their “competitor” get back up, and all crossed the finish line together, hand in hand!
As we run the Christian race, may we have patience to realize that “setbacks” are for our ultimate good and His glory. May we help and encourage one another! May we keep our eyes fixed on Him and on the prize that awaits every one of us on His team!
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
© 2013 Laurie Collett