Life can be the most brutal burn on you figurative muscles...mind, body and soul. The Christian race that is set before you may seem impossible and impossibly painful. You ask, "How long, O Lord?" You think, "Is there any end to this?" The enemy of our soul comes in to discourage us, "There is no end. Just give up."
There is a thing in marathon running called the "runner's high". "Psychologically, runners may experience euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time while running," says Jesse Pittsley, PhD, president of the American Society for Exercise Physiologists.
There is a runner's high for the Christian as well, when God breathes new life and new energies into you where there was nothing left before. The discomfort and pain fade as you get a sense of God lifting you up out of the agony and setting you in the heavens. But how do we tap into His grace for our endurance race?
Hebrews 12:1–2 says, “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.”
Just as Jesus endured the most brutal path through setting His joy before His face (YOU! You are dearly loved and deeply desired by God!), we must set Jesus before our face. One way you can do this is to make a list of your joy...seriously, write out a list of your joy and keep it with you all the time. I do this by having it typed out on my phone because my phone is always with me. When the race gets agonizing and my efforts are spent, out comes my list and I pray through it. Then the breath of God, like a mighty rushing wind, comes blowing into my life, filling up my sails...and the race continues with new hope and new purpose.
Right now, write out 5 things you love about Jesus, 5 specific ways He showers His love on you, and 5 reasons why it's worth it to keep pressing on in the race that is set before you. These 15 things will be the joy that will keep you moving forward.
I can’t believe what just happened. I can’t believe what I just did. I’m at a loss. Depressed doesn’t describe me now. I’m on the verge of losing it all! It all started last night. We had a wonderful dinner celebration. It was Passover, my favorite time of the year. I was there with Jesus and eleven of my closest friends. He said to us, “One of you will betray me”. It was shocking. Who would do such a thing to someone like Him? I told Him, “Lord, even if all of these guys betray you, I won’t!” There was no way I would do that! I’d rather die at His side than betray Him! He told me, “Peter, before the rooster crows three times you will deny Me.” It stung to be honest. Because partly, I can’t recall a time when He was wrong. Partly I didn’t want to think that I would be capable of such a horrific thing. I pushed it aside and stayed my ground.
Anyway, last night, in the garden, I made the first mistake. I fell asleep as He prayed. I heard His prayers out loud and saw Him cry. He even seemed to have blood dripping down from His brow. But the sleep overtook me. Not once but 3 different times! How embarrassing! And then Judas came with soldiers and arrested Jesus. I thought I could stand up for Him, but I only ended up cutting off an ear in my drowsiness. UUGH! And then I ran. We all did. I was afraid. Jesus said we would earlier that night, but I didn’t want to believe it could happen by me. That’s twice when He needed me by His side, that I failed!
And then it happened….I knew they probably would take Him to the High Priest’s home to find some fault with Him. So I followed. When I came into the courtyard someone said to me, "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth." I said, "Not me, wrong guy. I don’t know the Man!" and then left to go sit by a porch. A servant girl there said to others around me, “This is one of them!” I denied it and left. I figured I go sit by the fire. It was a cold night. I was a bit on edge by the time I got to the fire. Just as I sat down, someone said to me, “You’re from Galilee. I can tell by the drawl in your voice. Weren’t you with Jesus?” I flat out denied it and cursed! I was scared. For the third time I denied Him. And then a rooster crowed! Just as He said! I can’t believe what I just did and I broke down sobbing!
I looked up through my tears and my eyes met with Jesus’. It wasn’t a “told you so” look of condemnation. It was a look that said, “I still love you”.
Well here I am a few hours later on Friday. I’m confused. Hopeless. Lost. What a nightmare I’ve been through. I just got word they are going to crucify Him. I’m not sure things could get any worse.
If you could say anything to Peter what would it be? I know what I would say. Simply this, "Peter, Sunday is coming!” Jesus’ resurrection changes everything IN Life and ABOUT Life. What’s it changing in you?
Words of encouragement from the leadership at Calvary North.