And it's the reason I don't enjoy really running. I was a sprinter and jumper in high school. 60 seconds of sprinting max, and you're done. But running ... in my case getting on a treadmill ... there are no immediate results. I look exactly the same as I did when I got on, except for being hot and sweaty and thirsty. So it's a hard habit to keep up with. But I keep pressing on. I made a chart so I can record my times, every day increasing by a minute. By the end of the month, I'll be running 50 minutes instead of 20. And progress comes, but slowly and seemingly unnoticeable.
Story of my life. Things don't change overnight and most things take a lot of work, sweat, and persistence. It's frustrating! Especially when it comes to my relationship with God. I still sin. I still doubt. I still face temptation. Why can't I just be sanctified now? Why can't I really grasp what it means to be holy? How long until I get to stand in God's glory?
Patience, grasshoppa. Something my friend Jenn used to tell me is Now, but not yet. God wants His people to be holy because He is holy (Lev. 19:2). He calls us to a high standard. And even though God calls me to be holy because I am His, I am far from it. I sin. A lot. But I am no longer a slave to sin (Rom. 6:6). I am called to be holy now, but not yet. I'm still being sanctified (1 Thess. 4:3) to be like Christ. I look forward eagerly for the end result, but for now I keep plugging away, one day at a time.
Paul talks a lot about life being a race.
I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24)
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
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)
I'm pushing myself to get on the treadmill daily. It's hard. Some days I just don't feel like it. Some days I don't feel like praying or reading my Bible, but I push myself to be disciplined because the more I do, the easier it gets. The more I love doing it. It may take awhile, but I'll start seeing changes in my life whether it's my energy level or my joy. I may not be able to run a mile as quickly as I could in high school, and I may still struggle with judging people or acting selfishly, but I keep moving forward. Because I am called to something greater; now, but not yet.
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it.
Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.
Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—
that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.
And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)