9. The race requires endurance to complete it successfully. Being able to withstand the pressures of the race both physically and spiritually is critical for no one wins a race by skipping their training and taking a blasé attitude.
Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us,”
I am reminded of when I was a freshman in collage I helped coach a high school soccer team that went all the way to the state championships. We weren’t an overly talented team but we were a team that had a dedicated head coach and players that were willing to work harder than the other teams. During practices the head coach pushed his players hard to build their stamina. He would run them around the field over and over again requiring the last runner to sprint to the front of the line, when he got there he yelled and now the new last runner sprinted to the front of the line. This training, along with other endurance skills enabled the out players to play hard throughout the entire game. While other teams played hard, part-way through the second half they would start to drag. Our players on the other hand had a second wind and were able to push past the other team and win. The point of this story is that it is not always about being the best and the most skilled at something but having the endurance to outlast your opponent. It is the same in our Christian life, while it is important to hone our “skills”, continue to learn and do our best ( I Corinthians 10:31), like a tortoise, plodding along, being consistent and developing the needed endurance is what gets us to the finish line.
Physical conditioning is not easy. It is tough, you want to quit, it hurts and often it is just plan no fun. So it is with our spiritual conditioning, it is tough, there is often pain, and at times you just want to quit. But like a runner in training, they press on. We are reminded in II Corinthians 12:9 that His grace is sufficient for us. When the pain seems to become overwhelming and we think of giving up, it is HIS grace that is sufficient, not our works.
So how do you want to cross the finish line? Will you be a casualty in the race and have to be carried across the line on stretcher, will you allow the things of this world, the heartaches of life take your breath away or will you strengthen yourself in the Word of God and recognize that His grace is sufficient for you to finish your course?
Oh let us not become distracted by the world, let us not give up but press toward that mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14) .