A few weeks ago we watched the annual running of the Comrades’ Marathon with all its excitement, successes and disappointments, not forgetting the aches and pains. One achievement that stood out for me, was a runner who was running this marathon for the fifteenth time. So what you might be thinking, Barry Holland has just run his 47th! Barry has been spurred on by success and personal achievement. What struck me about the other runner, is that he had never finished the race in the allotted 12 hours for fourteen consecutive years and this year finally, officially completed the race. He had no successes to build on. No certainty that he would ever finish on time, yet he came back year after disappointing year. How’s that for perseverance?
St Paul likens our spiritual lives to a race and the Comrades is a good analogy: our spiritual life is not a sprint, it is a marathon – sometimes we start our spiritual race as if it is a sprint and we quickly run out of energy without having achieved anything. We also realise that we’re alone – we’ve run away from those who could have advised us on the race strategy and supported us when we faltered. In Hebrews 12:1 Paul writes: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.” To run with endurance means not giving up and this applies to our prayer life too: never give up praying for whatever circumstances you are confronted with, whether it be the challenges facing our government, an illness, a strained relationship or a family member struggling with addiction. At the end of your race, I pray that you can echo Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
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