Monday, December 04, 2006

Training

We revisited our potential church home today and the message seemed as if it had been written specifically about the events of our past 14 months! The message was about patience in achieving goals--dozens of verses were quoted and all were relevant for Tom & me. Since last October our eyes were fixed on a goal--to find the seemingly-elusive answer to our leap-of-faith prayers. The pastor, today, drew an analogy to faith being a marathon race that requires lengthy training. No one gets up one morning, reads in the paper about a local marathon & then just gets in line to run! No--they have to spend months enduring grueling training before they can cross the finish line with relief and a feeling of accomplishment.

Without training, who could run? And yet, the pastor said, we expect all sorts of laurels and rewards in our own lives without going through training, ourselves. We don't get into the Bible to sharpen our understanding; we don't fall to our knees in humility; we don't remember where we were when we were found. It was an encouraging message for both Tom & me on this first Sunday in Advent--another time of anticipation as we approach the celebration of Christ's entrance onto the global stage of humanity.

Here we are, Tom is employed in a position that challenges him and uplifts him, and still we need a good reminder that all of the hard work it took to get here was purposeful. Yes, the travels to distant interviews and the monies spent on job searching were all part of the training; downsizing to half of our comfortable square footage stripped away the "fat" and was necessary in order for us to stand here, today, having run the race of endurance (where we work daily on creative space-saving solutions in commonly smaller Northern Virginia living). No wonder we're so tired! But it's that good kind of tired, you know? Like after a cross country run when you're handed the Gatorade and a towel.

I remember those days--I wasn't so good of a runner then, and stammered to find a bench, or even fell to the ground at the end. I was always sprinting in the last hundred yards or so to try to get ahead of one or two other runners. My coach critiqued me by saying I shouldn't have that kind of energy left near the finish line--he said I wasn't properly pacing myself. So, now I understand, through a Real World example, that the best races are run at a steady pace.

Oh how I look forward to candlelight services this Christmas--a time of deep breathing and thanksgiving. We will never rest on our laurels--always and continually we train, for marathon racers who are any good don't stop at one run, do they? We really run for the final prize--the pleasure of the Lord. Remember these Eric Liddell quotations in "Chariots of Fire"?

"...when I run I feel His pleasure."

and

"Then where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. "

REFERENCE: Hebrews 12:1-3
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

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