Have you ever tried running against the wind, or biking, or really anything for that matter? It's hard. I was riding my bike yesterday...against the wind. After about 2 minutes, I really wanted to just turn around and go home. But determined to get back into riding my bike, I decided to keep going. And it is in moments like these that God really speaks to me through my circumstances. And this is what he showed me:
Living for Christ in this world is much like running against the wind. We are going the opposite way of the world. And it is hard some times. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just turn around and follow the current.
In Matthew 16:24-27:
Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.
Jesus never took the easy way out, not even to save himself from death. And if we just give in, and follow the crowd, we might gain some things, only earthly things, but what is it worth if we lose our souls?
You know, it didn't take much time for me to be able to pedal with more ease. It got easier and easier the farther I went. There is no way to gain physical strength if you give up when it gets hard. And it is going to be hard. But it does get easier. That doesn't mean that you will never face another steep hill, or stronger winds, but the more you train, and stick with it, the easier it gets to get up that hill with more ease, or go against the wind without straining.
The Bible often uses physical training to explain spiritual training.
1 Timothy 4:8-10
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 9 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle,for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.
Mostly, when referring to our spiritual walk as a "race", the word endurance, or press on, strive is used. It's not easy. This world is bombarded with commercials, and ways for us to want to do things the easy way. But when it comes to matters of faith, and following Christ, it is not easy. That does not mean that every moment of our lives will be difficult, but when things get hard, we must endure these hardships with faith that God will see us through. The enemy will throw anything at you to get you to give up. But we are not alone. If we fall, we have someone to help us up, and give us the strength to keep going.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
2 Thessalonians 3:2-3
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
People that hire personal trainers, or have an accountability partner stick with their training much better than those of us who do it alone.
Those of us who fix our eyes on Jesus and set our eyes on our heavenly prize will get much farther spiritually than those of us who think we can do this Christian walk alone. We need to trust in God, and help each other, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable.
I don't want to give up.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.