Justin and I started running.
It’s not at all fun.
We both signed up for a 10K race this fall for one reason: to push ourselves to develop perseverance in our lives. We’ve learned that you don’t just wake up one morning with unlimited energy and determination to live a life on mission. No, it takes training yourself to do hard things.
God didn’t give us five kids at once. He started us with one, and, boy oh boy, that one child turned our lives upside down. We had successfully lived our first two decades for ourselves. Then, reality check! We suddenly had to live day (and night) meeting the constant needs of someone else. With each additional child that blessed our home, this sacrificial lifestyle was reinforced. In the seasons of nighttime waking (which is still a real thing over here), meal cooking, laundry folding, constant cleaning, and now homeschooling, things were happening in us. Baby number five arrived in our world and he felt the easiest yet. It wasn't that our kids suddenly got easier, but because, as we’d been serving them, God had been developing strength and maturity in us along the way.
Then, there has been reading the Bible. That first time we read through it together was SO HARD (and took three years). Yet, slowly, month after month, year after year, we developed a habit of reading it together every night. While we still have times where we find our lazy side pulling us to easier, more relaxing things, we can see what God has done in our hearts through the years of choosing to open up his Word instead of turning on a screen, and that pushes us to keep reading the Bible together.
It is funny how doing the hard things equips you to do more hard things. And yet, you never really get to a point in your life where you are “finished training”. Laziness and selfishness seem to find a way to worm back into your life. With our quickly growing kids has come the ever growing list of responsibilities and needs they require each day. Homeschooling gets more involved with every child that enters our “school”. Starting and growing a ministry after the crew is asleep has been the hardest thing yet. Sometimes, when all I want to do is put my feet up and eat cookies, clearing a space in the living room and pouring over a podcast can feel impossible.
I share this because I want you to know that Justin and I aren’t some crazy couple with unlimited energy and drive. We get tired. We get lazy. We are drawn to comfort. It’s hard to do the right things. So, we need to continually encourage each other to press on, to train ourselves to persevere for the things that matter even on the days we don’t feel like it.
As I was running the other day and looking down the street at the long, gradual uphill that would continue all the way home, I wanted to stop. I was hot, tired, and feeling out of shape. Yet, there was no other way home but up that hill. I had to do the hard thing and keep putting one leg in front of the other. I couldn’t give up. I could have stayed home and added another cup of coffee to my day’s tally, but I had made the choice to push myself and now I needed to finish what I started. One had offered instant gratification, while the other promised pain and struggle. However, the harder choice would develop something in my life that is worth more than instant gratification, that is perseverance.
We've learned that coffee and cookies do nothing to fight for the next generation. Screens and TV shows don’t burn the truth of God’s Word into our hearts. Laziness and selfishness don’t help us show the love of Jesus to those around us. Some things in life come easy, but many of the things worth doing take striving, laboring and training for.
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. - 1 Timothy 4:7-10
Perhaps you feel like you are settling for the easy things in life; things that promise comfort and immediate satisfaction. I want to encourage you. Keep a resolute eye on the prize, a determined lifestyle fed by God’s Word, and a willingness to suffer and persevere for the Kingdom of God because these will offer you true life and joy.
You might not be running that 10K with us in a few weeks, but we, as brothers and sisters in Jesus, are all running together in this very real race of faith. We’re in the same race as you, facing the same temptations and challenges, so let’s encourage each other!
Don’t give up! (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Look to your Savior for strength! (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Don’t lose sight of the mission! (Matthew 28:19-20)
Don’t choose TV with your spouse when you can grow in God’s Word together!
Don’t settle for self-serving lives when you can experience the joy of serving God and others!
Let’s do the hard things, knowing that God promises a harvest if we do not give up! (Galatians 6:9)
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:12-14