Hebrews 3:14 “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”
Hey friends! It’s Amber and I wanted to share a story and some scripture that I’ve found very encouraging, especially lately. I had the privilege of going to Passion 2017 with my college youth group from my hometown this past winter. There was a speaker there named Christine Cain who was from Australia and spoke the first night we were there. Her topic was endurance. She told us of this man named Cliff Young who became famous at the age of 61 after setting a new course record in the Australian 543.7-mile endurance race. Young explained beforehand that he had grown up on a farm that had no horses or tractors and he would have to round up 2,000 sheep over 2,000 acres. He exclaimed that he would have to run after the sheep for two or three days at a time, but he would always catch them. That is why he thought he could run the race. Everyone thought he was crazy and after the first day judged that he would most likely not finish the race. They nicknamed his running style the “Young-shuffle” because it looked as if he was merely shuffling his feet, not actually running. It’s kind of like if you ever had to do interval runs and on the jog, in order to make the most of the rest time, you’re doing a bit of a rhythmic walk rather than a run. Most of the other competitors were elite runners who were young and sponsored by large companies. They all knew that they would run for 18 hours a day, then sleep for the remaining six. In total it would take them about five days to complete the race. However, being an amateur, Cliff Young was not aware of this method. He ran the race without stopping to sleep and ended up setting a new course record, all because he never stopped. Even if he was going at a very slow pace, he never stopped. Pointing back to Hebrews 3:14, Cliff Young finished the race with the same shuffle he had at the beginning. The biggest thing that separated him from the others was his ability to keep going, to hold firmly till the end. This was Christine’s main point from the story she shared, and I think there’s many lessons to be learned from the comparison of our journey in faith and a marathon. However, from the story of Cliff Young, two stood out to me the most.
Even if you are going slow, do not stop pursuing Christ. The journey to our heavenly home is not a sprint but a marathon. As Christine Cain mentioned in her sermon, distance running takes different muscles than a sprint. The muscles that we need to build can be strengthened through reading and listening to God’s word and letting His word change our hearts. As the verse says, “hold firm”! Do not give in! Let the Lord be your strength. Isaiah 40:30-31 “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Sometimes, it may seem like the world is just repeating the same day over and over again. It’s easy to think “okay, Lord, nothing is happening right now” and think that your daily investment is reaping nothing. However, every day we have the opportunity to invest in eternity. Keep stepping forward and stepping towards the Lord. Even if it feels you’ve hit a wall, pray to the Lord and let him renew your strength! Also, in times where we get lazy and feel like nothing around us is happening, arm yourself with the armor of God and ask your sisters for prayer to keep enduring. You are not meant to do this marathon alone!
TRAINING FOR GOLIATH
God has prepared us to run the race, even if we don’t realize it. In one of the most famous Biblical underdog stories, David and Goliath, we can see just how God prepares us for our battles in the way He prepared David to fight Goliath. When David steps up to fight Goliath, King Saul tells him “you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” (1 Samuel 17:33). Let’s look at David’s reply. Notice that like Cliff Young, his shepherding career prepared him for more than an efficient farm. 1 Samuel 17:34-37 “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine.” Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you.’”
David fought off lions and bears! He was prepared to fight this giant. God had prepared him while he had been shepherding. So when we’re in a season of waiting and it seems like we’re just doing a regular job, like shepherding, hold firmly because God could just be preparing you for Goliath in ways we may not even be able to see. God has prepared us to fight against the enemy who is constantly trying to tire us out of our faith. We have a power that surpasses all others, the power of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:19-21). When we face trials and adversity and feel tired and weak, remember what Jesus answered to Paul in his pleading. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Trust in His training. Trust in His coaching. Trust in His track record (which is undefeated by the way). And run the race with endurance.
Our lives are made up of so many seasons, but sisters remember that every day God has given us the grace of Christ and we always have the opportunity to learn more of who He is. Day by day, moment by moment, look to Him. In this marathon, He is every ounce of electrolytes and carbs that we need. So carb up for this race and press on!
Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Amber (@amber_hoot) is an author + creative at thegracescripts.com. Amber plays soccer at her college, Middle Tennessee State University, and loves the opportunity that it gives her to share the Gospel with other student athletes. Amber lives in Tennessee.