I ran today! I haven’t run in a long time. I knew I had to pace myself or I would never finish the few miles that I set out to run. As I started out, I thought, “This isn’t so bad. I can do this.” So, I trudged along at my snail’s pace fairly confident that I would finish my course. That is, until I came to the dreaded hill!
Hills are killers! Hills hurt. Hills require perseverance. Hills require determination. Only naÃƒ¯ve novices or seasoned runners would try to run or sprint up a hill. Hills require a steady, even, slower pace. The steeper the hill, the more focus is required.
The Hills of Life
About 30 seconds into my hill, I was tempted to start walking. And then, I thought of my friend. I have been talking with a friend all week who is climbing up her own proverbial, very steep, spiritual hill in her faith. I have been trying to encourage and motivate her to keep moving forward on her hill of faith.
She has been discouraged. She is weary. She is tired. She needs help. She feels like just stopping at times. She wants the hill to get easier. She wants to know when the road underneath her will flatten, making her course a little easier. I feel for her. I want to help her.
And so, as I ran up my hill this morning, I prayed for her to make it up hers. As I was tempted to walk, I thought of her temptations, and prayed for strength for my friend. I did not quit, because I am calling her not to quit. I thought about the words, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” I have been encouraging her to believe these words, and I made myself believe them this morning as I made it up my hill during my run.
The Hills of Faith
Life really does feel like a steep run uphill at times, doesn’t it? Life gets hard. Faith can be even harder. It is, at times, difficult to believe all that God says. It’s hard to apply His promises to our life. It’s hard to accept as true all that the Bible tells us about who we are, who He is, and what He is up to in difficult circumstances. At times, it is hard to trust that He is good. His ways are sometimes hard to understand.
This confusion makes faith a strenuous effort! We get weary of our particular course. We may even feel like giving up. As I was running up the hill this morning, I thought of some of the things that help us make it up our hills in life.
The Wind at Your Back
When running up a hill, it sure is nice to have the wind on your back, isn’t it? It gives that little push in the right direction. The wind energizes our own efforts, making us feel more confident, more able to keep moving forward. The Holy Spirit has been likened to the wind. His supernatural power gives us what we need to keep moving forward. Knowing that we have resurrection power through the Holy Spirit living within us gives us the encouragement to believe that we really can do all things through Him who gives us strength!
At the Finish Line
Then I thought of the One who would be at the finish line to welcome all of His runners at the end of our own pre-determined courses. God our Father will be there to embrace us as we finish our races. He will welcome us. He will embrace us and tell us things like, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It will be sweet relief to finish the course, to breathe out that last sigh, the sigh of the end of strained effort when all of our striving will be over.
The One Who Runs with Us
But, there is more. There is Another who runs with us in our races. Jesus runs with us! He runs with us not as One who does not understand what the uphill climb feels like, but as One who has endured the worst of all hills with endurance. He willingly chose to be like us with all of our weaknesses. He wore our humanity. He knows exactly what it feels like to run uphill in this life. He knew that He had the steepest of all hills to climb at the cross! He knew what it meant for Him, and how hard it would be to endure.
In the Garden, with the hill of Golgotha up ahead on His course, He strained for faith to the point of sweating drops of blood. He asked His Father if there was any other way. Could He save God’s people without this Hill? Was there any way around this Hill? And yet, in faith, He said, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” And He began the ruthless ascent up the harsh Hill to Calvary.
His ultimate endurance at Calvary gives us the strength to endure! His ultimate victory on the cross gives us the ability to be more than conquerors as well. And this Jesus runs with us. He knows the strain that we feel on our hills. He knows that it is hard to keep moving forward. And this is the One who runs with us. Because he endured victoriously, we also will endure victoriously. He will complete what he started in us. He made us runners for Him, and He will give us all that we need to finish our courses. But we need to keep moving forward in faith.
We must face the right direction, as we look towards the goal of finishing the course, knowing that our Father waits for us at the finish line. We need to remember that we have Someone running with us who sympathizes with the toughness of the course, and we can take courage as we realize that we have a Helper giving us supernatural power to keep moving forward. With those thoughts, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” And we will sit with Him too at the end of our race!
Join the Conversation
In your spiritual race, which race analogy encourages you?