By Bob Haynes

A Matter Of Perseverance


The Apostle Paul wrote these words in the third chapter of Philippians: “One thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.” That is good advice for all of us, I think. The image of ‘straining toward what is ahead’ and “trying to reach the goal” is like the long-distance runner whose focus is on the finish line and that focus will provide the strength to persevere, one step at a time.

Paul’s using a long-distance runner as an example reminded me of an event that took place here in Austin last month. The event was the first-ever Half-Iron Man Competition in Austin… and hundreds of participants took part, among them Marci’s daughter Melanie and her husband Rommel.

Melanie is an excellent runner! Rommel is fantastic on the bicycle. When they enter events they don’t just do a few jogs around the block. They train for things like Triathlon’s, and hundred mile bike races. The goal for both is to participate in a full Iron Man race…and perhaps even the Boston Marathon. The amount of effort it takes to prepare for such an event is huge.

For such an event you must be able to run, bike, and swim in competition with others, as well as competition with the clock. I am in awe of their physical stamina and even more in awe of their perseverance in getting ready for the race, and for how they concentrate on that race as it evolves. One thing’s for certain, in such a race, one does not try to “rest on their laurels.” To be serious about marathons, you must be willing to persevere in your training.

I believe Melanie’s story applies to those of us who are in the midst of experiencing the battle against cancer. It’s a long, hard road with lots of pitfalls and trials. In order to do battle we must put on all our armor – our minds, our bodies, and our spirit. We must also make it clear that our goal is to reach the time when the cancer is no longer there and along the way, give thanks for the additional time that the treatments have given us.

Paul seems to tell us to put our past mistakes, victories, and self-reliance behind. In order to persevere we must focus our attention and energy on the goal we have set before us. For the Christian that means running toward a Jesus-centered life and leaving our self-centered life behind. Most of all, he would tell us to keep moving forward because in doing so your endurance will increase the harder and the farther you run.

So Paul’s description of the runner and the race is a good one for all of us no matter where we are in our life’s journey. It takes perseverance toward maturity in our faith with the ultimate goal being that God can work through us as we do his work.

That being said, we have a choice each and every day that we live. After all, we live in an awesome world. Let’s make it an awesome day. Peace to all and may God bless you. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And, leave the rest to God. Shalom!

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