Stamina for the Journey
When we were younger, my wife and I would don our running gear and jog through our neighborhood. We weren’t very fast, nor would I say that we ENJOYED it, but we made it a habit. The last time I actually entered a race was years ago. It was a 10K through the streets of Gresham. Afterwards, I was so sore for so long, I never laced up my running shoes again.
Today, I watch in amazement at the people who run marathons, especially those who complete one in under two hours (that’s 13 mph). Not bragging, but in my prime, I could have given them a run for their money – for maybe 50 yards! Any attempt to stay on their heels beyond that and I’d be entering the “heart-attack zone”.
In the Bible, the words used to describe stamina are “endurance” and “perseverance”. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with PERSEVERANCE the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Centuries before the time of Jesus, one of God’s spokesmen to the nation of Judah was Jeremiah. The prophet was upset that the people of Israel were not turning back to God. Instead, they were turning AGAINST him. Here’s what the Coach (God) said to His athlete (Jeremiah): “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in a safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5)
What would these questions sound like today? “Marlon, if a 10K about killed you, how do you think you’d do in an Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii? If you complain when you suffer the normal difficulties of life, why do you think you would be any different if life really got tough?”
The stamina or endurance that the Christian life calls for is not related to our cardiovascular health. Rather, we are called to persevere in our obedience and trust in the Lord. “You need to PERSEVERE so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)
Jesus is the best example of endurance for our partners to follow. Trusting in the goodness of His heavenly Father, even though it meant that He would experience mockery, torture, and crucifixion, Jesus never wavered. “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.” (Hebrews 12:2)
What was the “joy” before Jesus? I don’t think it was primarily the resurrection. I think it was knowing that because of His sacrifice for sin He would provide the way for you and me to return to God, fully forgiven, and to receive the promise of life forever with Him in Heaven. The joy of our partners is seeing orphans, widows, and other “forgotten” ones experience the love and salvation of God.
Your donations are passed on to our partners, adding to their joy and encouraging them to persevere in their race.
By Marlon Furtado