Wednesday, September 29, 2010

QUOTE: Sprint or Marathon?

"The Christian life is not a sprint ... it is a marathon. Training for one is far different from the rigors of preparing for the other."

--Emily Schankweiler; A Sacrifice of Praise]

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is. . . that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living." Inspired by this quote, Eugene Peterson titled one of his early books,  A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I have been fond of that description of Christian life.

A long obedience is like a marathon; it is not something which can be quickly or even instantly accomplished. Some of the same tips for preparing to run a marathon  seem appropriate for running the spiritual race:

Eat Breakfast/Drink on the run/Drink early, drink often. Don't neglect the Lord's table.
Dress the part/Wear lightweight, supportive shoes. Put on the armor of Christ.

Go with what you know --don't be fooled by revisionist hermeneutics or the latest spiritual fad
Collect yourself.  Pray and meditate.
Think laps, not miles.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof!
Run like a clock --discipline yourself for regular times of worship, devotion, study, service
Chill out/Relax --rest in the Lord
See Success -- think on that which is good, true, lovely...and give Him thanks for it.
Lord, help me to stay in the race, help me finish well.

From "The Christian Marathon,"  by Emily Riley,  in The Devotional Christian:  

"... In the Bible, growth in sanctification is compared to a race. Here are some tips to help us run in our Christian life…

Be disciplined: “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” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).

Run to win: “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.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

Don’t look back: “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14).

Get rid of what holds you back: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Work past the pain: “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

Remember the end goal: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

The Christian life is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It is easy to get distracted, but we need to remain disciplined. Like the author of Hebrews says, so that we do not grow weary in the race, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

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