Patience and Endurance
Completing an endurance race requires commitment, patience and perseverance. It is no easy feat, taking huge effort and often enduring great pain.
Similarly we shouldn’t expect the “Race of Your Life” to be a simple undertaking. In part one we saw how being a Christian is like being an athlete. We also learned that Jesus was the example to follow…
..but he was the son of God – surely that’s an advantage?
Well, perhaps, to some degree, but he was human like us and was challenged in the same ways we are. We’ll explore some of those points in part 3.
The other thing to remember is that we’re not expected to be perfect, but we are to set our sights high and therefore we need to find ways of living that will help rather than hinder our journey.
The parable of the sower
Jesus told a story, the parable of the sower, who scattered seed over his land hoping to grow crops. There were three types of ground and when it came to growing the seed each area of land had varying results.
There was Rocky ground, thorny ground and good ground. Jesus explained that each patch of ground represents a different kind of person with a different outlook. Like the athlete, our potential for success in the race of our life will be determined by the condition of our mind. Specifically, our ability to accept God’s Word as a way of life.
In the parable, the crops that sprang up out of rocky ground and just as quickly withered away.
… [these] are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don’t have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up.Luke 8 v 13
If we enter any kind of race without the necessary commitment we too will find ourselves giving up at the first sight of a challenge.
What about the thorny ground?
The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they are so eager for riches and pleasures that they never produce anything.Luke 8 v 14
The riches and pleasures of life, are always a distraction!
Even King David – one of the most faithful men who ever lived – saw faithless people doing well and felt angry about it.
However, he accepts that the ”pleasures of life” are short lived…
Don’t be annoyed by anyone who does wrong, and don’t envy them.
They will soon disappear like grass without rain.
…but if you trust the Lord, the land [the Kingdom] will be yours.Psalm 37 v 7
How do we make sure that we’re equipped?
To be patient and endure a long, tough race and stay the course, no matter how challenging it gets…how do we do this?
Well, having trained to the peak of fitness athletes have to maintain it. Regular exercise, healthy eating and streamlined or lightweight clothing minimise any hinderance or drag as they compete.
The equivalent for a Christian is:
Those seeds that fell on good ground are the people who listen to the message and keep it in good and honest hearts. They last and produce a harvest.Luke 8 v 15
The “good ground” represents people who recognise God’s truth and they keep it in their hearts… not hidden away but active in their life. Daily ‘reading’ is essential to keeping that truth active in our lives… feeling the benefit of its guidance daily. It’s vital if we are to develop patience, endurance and run this race effectively…
This is what the Apostle Paul said:
…the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope. God is the one who makes us patient and cheerful. I pray that he will help you live at peace with each other, as you follow Christ.Romans 15 v 4
Jesus was faithful to the end. He kept on track because he listened to his Father. Reading the Bible is OUR opportunity to listen to the Father. “…the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us”.
Reading God’s Word is our way of keeping our eye on the prize… and we can take comfort knowing that Jesus has already run this race, has demonstrated the reward in resurrection and now we wait patiently for his return.
After all, it was Jesus who taught:
But if you keep on being faithful right to the end, you will be saved.Matthew 24 v 13
So we’re mentally prepared but what else do we need to do – and who are we racing against anyway? Join us for the final part in this series – “The Finish Line”
(All quotes taken from the Contemporary English Version unless otherwise stated)