Finish The Race

Turtle_Racing1There are times when the burdens of life are incredibly heavy.  When I experience these times in my personal life, I’m reminded of Hebrews 12:1-3: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Heartache, sickness, and grief can present circumstances that are difficult to endure. While these hurdles may slow you down to the pace of the turtle, don’t let them sideline you:  Finish the race.

To finish the race:

  • Consistently engage in “cross” training by walking in step with Jesus.
  • Focus on your goal.
  • Keep your eyes focused on the next step and not the hurdle three steps in front of you.

When troubles and trials come into your life, do you see just the mountain, or do you also consider the Creator of the mountain? When the storms of life shake you at your core, do you see just the storm or do you also see the rainbow? When you feel trapped and think there is no escape, do you hear the roaring lions or do you feel the presence of Daniel’s angels?

When it comes to endurance, you don’t have to walk alone.  Jesus extends an invitation to walk with Him, and He offers to help carry the load:  Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30 ~The Message).

Enduring Life’s Hurdles

There are times when the burdens of life are incredibly heavy.  When I experience these times in my personal life and when I walk with others who are struggling, Hebrews 12:1-3 is the Gatorade that keeps me going:  let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Heartache, sickness, and grief can present circumstances that are difficult to endure. Like it or not, they are hurdles that are a part of life’s race.  Regardless of how hard we train, we will find it difficult to cross the finish line if we do not keep our eyes on the goal.

The key to finishing the race is to keep your eyes focused on the next step and not the hurdle three steps in front of you.  Even though tragedies and  trials can appear to be insurrmountable obstacles, a person needs to see more than just the mountain ahead.

Instead of bowing to the mountain,  focus your faith on the God who made the mountain.  When troubles come, do you see just the storm or do you see the rainbow?  When you feel there is no way out, do you hear the roaring lion or do you feel the presence of Daniel’s angels?

When it comes to endurance, you do not have to walk alone.  Jesus extends an invitation to walk with Him and He offers to help carry the load:  Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Mattew 11:28-30 The Message).

Go ahead and read these words from The Message, they should be enough to keep you thinking:  Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!—Hebrews 12:1-3

From Tragedy to Triumph

Little Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940 in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee.   She came into this world weighing a mere 4 1/2 pounds. She spent the early years of her childhood in bed battling double pneumonia and scarlet fever.  When she was 6 she was afflicted with polio.  This disease caused her to lose the use of her left leg, so she was fitted with metal leg braces.

One day Wilma asked her parents:  Will I ever be able to run and play like the other children?  Her mother responded:  Honey, you only have to believe.  You have to trust in God because with God all things are possible.

If her story ended when her being a cripple, it would be understandable, but  Wilma was determined to turn her tragedy into  triumph.  She believed God could make it happen; and, by the time she was 9 years old, she was out of the braces and quickly becoming a star on the basketball court.

Wilma’s hard worked transformed her into a 5′ 11″ lightening fast runner, and she went on to win 3 gold medals in 1960 at the Rome Olympics.  She retired from running when she was 22 years old.  She turned her focus to coaching women’s track teams and encouraging young people.  Wilma used her talent and fame to establish the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to assist young athletes in reaching their academic and professional goals.

Here’s a thought to keep you thinking.  Talent is God-given, so be humble.  Fame is man-given, so be thankful.  Conceit is self-given, so be careful.

Thoughtful or Thought-Filled?

I’m not sure that I’m a thoughtful person; however, I have no doubt that I am thought-filled.  My mind races from one thought to another at a speed, that even NASCAR can’t match.

If all these thoughts were positive and constructive, I’d be the envy of the world.  The trouble is that many of them are negative and destructive.

I’ve come to realize that either I control my thoughts or they control me.  Our thoughts are seeds that blossom into feelings and behaviors that make us either blooming idiots or citizens of substance.

Dick Tracy

The increase in technology is directly connected to a decrease in thought-regulating quiet time.  Think with me for a moment about the rapid changes in society.  I can remember the Sunday edition of the paper and the watch-like apparatus Dick Tracy wore on his wrist.  Dick could be seen talking to a fellow detective with this device that was a pre-cursor to cell phones and video conferencing.  Most everyone thought this was far-fetched-thinking that would never happen in their lifetime, but we’ve gone from party-lines to cell phones with video capabilities in just a few short years.

And shortened years just might be the diagnosis, if we don’t learn how to slow down and still keep pace.  The question is:  How can we slow down, when the computer keeps us ramped up?

Here’s something I’m trying.  Every time I do a Google search, I pause just a second before I begin and say something positive and spiritual.  Prayers like this  have their roots in the words of the Apostle Paul:  Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17); and in the thoughts of the old Quaker theologian, Rufus Jones:  Let a person’s inner being be fortified with a faith in God and all his creative powers are quickened, his marching strength is heightened and his grip on everyday things is immensely increased. It is as though he had tapped a hidden reservoir of power.

Let me share a few quick phrases that can be effective keyboard prayers:

·        Bless the Lord, my soul.

·        May Your will be accomplished in me.

·        Not my will, but yours.

·        Teach me. Guide me. Keep me

·        The Lord is the Rock of my salvation.

Instead of embracing the mentality of Atlas and trying to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, I’m learning to use these mini-prayers as pace-setters as I walk with the Lord.

I think these words of Jesus from The Message provide a good summary of my thoughts:  Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30).

I hope this thought keeps you thinking.