I often complain about being out of shape. I have a myriad of excuses for why I find myself gasping for breath on a hike with my long-legged husband or taking an occasional jog with a friend. It's not that I don't exercise; I do. In fact, I made it through an hour-long Advanced Tae-Bo video the other day like a champ. But, alas, I have no endurance. I could not do Tae-Bo for a second hour---or every day for that matter. I work out when I have time, I pump some iron when I've eaten a few too many Joe Joe's; but, no, I could not run a marathon. I realized this week, in the face of what seems to be a time of trial and spiritual warfare in and around our family, that we are running the race of our lives; that we are soldiers in a battle. And I am wheezing. Sure, I have spurts of strength and fervor--which would deliver a fine finish if life were a sprint. But life isn't a 50-yard dash, nor is ministry. To have just enough strength, power, joy, hope, obedience, faithfulness, diligence, mercy, love, discernment, and forgiveness to get you through the next hurdle is not good enough. The race is long and the race is hard. Only those who persevere will finish the race.
So, I'm training--more deliberately than I have. Just as an athlete may find herself focused on one area of fitness to the neglect of another, I'm conditioning myself more diligently in the exercise of prayer. Prayer is no walk in the park--or around the track on a warm sunny day chatting with a girlfriend about the new outfit you purchased on the clearance rack at Old Navy. Closet prayer is hard work. It is not unlike swimming to me: so freeing and natural if you're taking a dip, and yet, so challenging when you're on your 20th lap. That's just it...I need laps. I must have it, to expand my lungs and increase my endurance. If prayer is the vehicle through which my capacity for oxygen is maximized, the Word of God is the air I breathe. His Word is life and gives life, and is the means through which this vessel receives nourishment and adequate supply. Through Him, I will cross the finish line...not winded and wheezing, but in victory.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."Hebrews 12:1