Stay the Course

When Colson was in high school, he used to run cross-country. It was a good sport for him. One of the big cross-country meets during the season was at Mt. San Antonio College (aka Mt. SAC). Mt. SAC was one of the most challenging courses on the schedule. The runners started on a long pathway which was a former airstrip and then ran over three large hills before finishing the race on a flat area. Because the course was so hilly, endurance more than speed was required to do well. It was fine to start out fast but you probably weren’t going to finish strong if you couldn’t endure the ups and downs of the hills in between. In many ways, it was a great life lesson.

I don’t know about you but it feels like the last few years have been similar to the Mt. SAC course, an ongoing series of ups and downs. We’ve certainly seen huge downs and disruptions in the world around us with COVID, war, politics, inflation, etc. The ups come when it looks like things are getting better but then another shoe seems to drop. We’ve probably all experienced ups and downs in our personal lives as well. With life being like a grueling cross-country race, I want to encourage you to stay the course. Scripture tells us that endurance or perseverance is required in our walk with God. Romans 5:3-4 says “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Merely getting to the finish line is not the only goal. God is at work developing our character into His likeness. Although it’s not always a pleasant thought, struggling uphill often does more for our character than gliding downhill with the wind at our back. Perseverance is part of our job. The last part of Hebrews 12:1 says “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Of course, trials and hardships can be discouraging, especially when we feel alone. That’s why God has given us the church, His body. Though cross-country may seem like a solitary activity, I learned (while watching Colson) that it’s a team sport with teammates exhorting each other on throughout the race. Likewise, we are to be a source of support and encouragement for one another as we each run the race marked out for us. Lastly, God has promised to be with us. We should always remember that we do not run the race alone. Deuteronomy 31:8 says “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” So whether you’re currently running uphill in the face of hardships or running downhill with relative ease, persevere and stay the course as God works to make you more like Him.

God bless,

Pastor Darren