Yesterday I ran. I ran what used to be my daily 3.1-mile loop. I used to think that wasn’t a big deal. But yesterday was different. I hadn’t run that distance in several years.
I didn’t grow up being physically active. I hated the heat. Hated sweat. Hated being outside. How in the world did I survive Texas summers? Truthfully, I stayed inside. After three kids, my body showed it. Until God worked a miracle in my heart. I went from sedentary to active over the course of a year, and began to love the things I once hated. Only God can do that. I ran regularly for about five years, which included one marathon and one half-marathon.
Then injuries began to distract me. Injuries followed by simple laziness. Recapturing the motivation to be healthy again has been a major challenge. I would make a good start, and after some decent success, I quit. I was in a cycle of defeat. Until God worked a miracle in my heart, again. It’s been more difficult than I ever imagined.
For me, 2017 is about regaining a healthy mind and body. I changed my eating habits and go to the gym regularly. Recently I started running a little bit on the treadmill or home from the gym. Last night I considered getting up early and running my old morning route. I can’t remember the last time I did that.
My alarm went off at 6:00. I turned it off and rolled over. But a few minutes later, my husband (who is in Rio right now) “accidentally” face-timed me. Clearly, God wanted me out of bed doing what He placed in my heart and mind to do.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:13)
It’s About Finishing
It was hard. And hot. And humid. But I had my music and my water. And God was with me. On a difficult run, there is one place I always look forward to—the point when going home is the shortest distance left to run. Although it was only three miles, yesterday was no different. As I rounded the curve into my last mile, God gave me a beautiful gift. A sunrise. That used to be one of my favorite things about running early in the morning. God reminded me, it’s not about beating a time or a split, but about finishing. I kept my eyes on that sunrise until I made it home.
Running, like any worthwhile activity, takes diligent effort. Pain is inevitable. Distractions are everywhere. In order to accomplish what we set out to do, we must maintain our focus.
Jesus is our example for maintaining focus in the Christian life. While enduring the Cross, He focused on the joy of His reward–His eternal throne and eternal life with us. While enduring our own trials, our focus is Jesus, the beginner and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). It’s not about hurrying through our trials. It’s not about learning a lesson quickly so we can move on to the next thing. Our trials are about maturing our faith, growing our endurance (James 1:2-3). Deepening our relationship with God (Psalm 37:39-40). All the while, focusing on the joy of our reward–eternal life with Jesus.
God is the Great Finisher
The last words Jesus spoke before He died were, “It is finished.” He had a mission, and He finished it (John 19:28-30). Toward the end of his life, the Apostle Paul told Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. (2 Timothy 4:7)
Paul faithfully finished the assignment God gave him. God has a plan for us, as well. We have the promise that what He begins, He finishes!
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)
Throughout our lives, God gives us different things to do. I have an unfinished project. A couple of weeks ago, God used a verse in my quiet time to emphasize His desire for me to get busy and finish it. The verse is written to the Corinthians in the matter of their financial giving. But I know God was smiling when I read it.
Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. (1 Corinthians 8:10)
Ugh … my project is a year old! And not finished! It’s not that far from complete, which makes the sting more sharp.
Finishing is not just about our faith. Yesterday it was about finishing a run. The rest of this year is about finishing that project! (As well as continuing to be faithful in my health and fitness goals.) Finishing is for everything God gives us to do.
What assignments has God given you? Where is your focus?
Let’s finish well, together!It's about finishing what God gives us to do, while focusing on Jesus.