Tuesday, October 02, 2007

in for the long haul

Halfmom, AKA, Susan left a comment recently that I believe the Lord used to minister to me and help me. She simply quoted Hebrews 12:1-2 which is a great reminder to us in Jesus that our lives are a marathon race along the path that God has laid out before us. And the point that ministered to me especially is that we're in this for the long haul.

Endurance seems terribly unexciting and even grim, like "grim and bear it". But this is exactly what we need to do. Much of life will seem mundane at times, even though in Jesus nothing is really mundane. But we'll be bored, and worse than that at times, sorely tempted to quit.

Why do so many Christians seem so enthusiastic for the Lord yet seem by and by to flag and lose out entirely in their enthusiasm? Could it be that we fail to realize that this life in Jesus is an endurance race we're to run? I think this can be a large part of the problem for many of us.

Of course in this race we're to throw off all that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us and we're to focus on Jesus, on his life, how he lived. All the while running, yes living out this faith as those who are committed to running the race to the finish.

Hopefully this will encourage someone out there as it encouraged me today. And more than that, help keep us on track in the way of Jesus for the rest of our lives.

What would you add to this?

19 comments:

Susan said...

Ted,
This is a good word.
I wonder in my own life whether its not some times also what I'm enthusiastic about that needs adjustment.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan,
Good to get a comment from you.

I wonder if it isn't related to an improper focus as well as having an agenda of our own (or someone else's) attached to the following of Jesus.

Last evening I read a helpful chapter in Scot McKnight's "Jesus Creed" on Surrendering. Very good and I think an important part of what it takes for us to do well, by grace, in the long haul.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I should add to that that the point of the chapter that really hit home with me was our ongoing prayer and posture of "not my will, by yours be done." As well as accepting the pain that comes with that, but fruit afterwards and strength for the long haul, I took it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I want to add to that that I think in the chapter Scot was emphasizing accepting and learning to embrace God's will, more than the negation of our own wills. Though the latter is certainly there.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan and everyone else,
I hope I am not coming across on this blog as thinking I have the answer to questions. I'm just a fellow struggler and pilgrim here with you. I get alot out of the input you have and grow from it.

Every Square Inch said...

How timely. I just returned from the Desiring God National Conference, this past weekend. The theme? Endurance of the Saints.

Great speakers - Jerry Bridges, John Macarthur, Piper...

Check out the free MP3 messages on the DG website -
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByConference/37/

NaNcY said...

it is good to have fellowship and encourage eachother by speaking about God and what God is doing in our lives. we can start out with the filling of the Holy Spirit and be very full of enthusiasm. if there is no effort on our part to submitt to God in humble thankfulness and worship...and ask for the filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives...then the endurance becomes harder to maintain. we need to take responsibility for our spiritual feeding of our selves and to fellowship with others in uplifting eachother in looking to God and following Jesus.

this is good for me to think on to realize what i have been doing to maintain the filling of the Holy Spirit in myself and in speaking uplifting stories of God and God in my life. i think that enthusiasm is good, and comes from the work of the Holy Spirit being asked to work in us. we are given this when we are open to it and ask for it. and it helps us through what is going on around us, all the problems of the world in our life. i think that there are times in life that really are very hard, and there are also times that we make hard because we are not doing our part in opening our selves up to the work of the Spirit.

i thank God for the stories of God in your life that you share and those things of what you have learned about God.

L.L. Barkat said...

I suppose that's part of the rhythm of any relationship, even ours with God (flagging). The issue is, I suppose, whether we stay in that state permanently.

Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI, Thanks. I'll have to give that a listen. Sounds very good. I'm sure you had a good time being there.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Thanks so much for sharing that. I too agree that we need more of the work of the Spirit in our lives. And the filling of the Spirit. And to learn more and more to walk in, and keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians).

It is by the Spirit that we are to live this life and be in for the long haul. Thanks for bringing this up. It seems either the Spirit is talked about constantly or not at all. Maybe the former is better, but we need to look more to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I need to.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Some surely seem to go from a relationship with God in Christ to none at all, or at least to the point where it seems nonexistant.

I think surely we have to work at our relationship with God just like any other relationship in a number of ways. Though God is God, so there are differences, I'm sure. But I think we tend to forget the similarities and that relating to God is in a sense like relating to any other person.

Thanks for bringing that in as relationship is certainly at the heart or closely related to all aspects of our calling and life in Christ.

Kim said...

Ted, Thanks for your disclaimer about being a struggler and pilgrim. Every so often I have to make a similar statement in my blog too. I think that those of us who write, who commit our thoughts to our blogs, who have a passion for what we believe (especially if it's Christ we believe in) also have a tendency to sound as though we've got all the answers. Obviously, we don't. We ask questions, share from our own experiences, float trial balloons, write extemporaneously and sometimes even embarrass ourselves! But I'm glad and proud to know a fellow struggler and pilgrim, even if we're just pen-pals of sorts. Keep up the good work.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kim,
Thanks for checking in. Yes, your an honest guy, and that's the kind I identify with.

I really need this post and these posts probably more than anyone else, at least that's the way I feel about them. But God knows we all need his help and grace and truth every day through it all, in Jesus, and really in Jesus together. We need his help and we need each other as well.

So thanks for coming on and sharing this comment, and for what you share on your blog.

Mike said...

Endurance is something that we dont talk about anymore. Why is that?

lorenzothellama said...

Hi Ted,
I can really emphasize with what you are saying. I used to be a marathon runner and I often likend the experience to my struggle with faith.

It really is a question of hanging in there. About 18 to 20 miles in I could think of no good reason to finish the race. It would be so easy to pull out. I kept thinking that I knew there was a reason to finish when I started the race, but I just couldn't remember what it was!

I struggle greatly especially being surrounded by a lot of born -again athiests! At this moment I am in the 18-20 mile zone again. I've been there many times, and so far I've always managed to trudge on, not enlightened or anything, but just sheer bloody-mindedness that I was going to get to the end.

Not very holy I know.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Mike,
Good question, but I think you're right. It seems like success is measured in ways different from God's measure. I mean if our goal is unity in Christ then that's a tall order all the way around. But the world's measure is very achievable. While there's some overlapping of what the world does because some of this is gifts from God put to some good use, there is the belief in the quick fix or relatively quick fix or big turnaround in which you may have to sacrifice for a time, but you'll see great success if you just follow through, in time.

But endurance as in what we talk about here is the work of a lifetime, not finished until God takes us home or the coming of Christ.

And to be worked out in society takes endurance too, since there will always be factors and powers pulling the other direction in this present life and existence.

One way of looking at it I guess. I'm sure nothing new to you.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Hi Ltl,
Thanks for sharing your marathon running experience with us. It does bring back some memories of the minimal running I've done faintly reminiscient of that, but not the real thing.

Even Jesus in Hebrews 5 struggled in Gethsemane and before, but he finished the race, and we in Jesus are to do the same of course. I so much like and agree with your point here, that there will be times when our faith is just plodding on, very unenlightened. That's an aspect of faith in this world. Often we can't see clearly, or we just have a sense of who we're following. But we follow on. Faith has that aspect of leap from our darkened existence, and by and by we do end up in the light of God in Jesus. Of course faith is based on promises from God and on God himself and this passage Half-mom Susan pointed out to me has those aspects at least implied in it.

But it is holy in God's eyes, I think, when we struggle on in our faith, despite our setbacks because of our sins and in spite of our weaknesses.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

My goodness, you are much more prolific than I!!

I clicked on the hyperlink and said, "what, why is Ted telling everyone that a comment about me needing to quickly get ready for work encouraged him" - then I realized that I had left a second comment! Boy was that a relief.

I think the key for me is that there seem to be two categories of things that hinder the race - 1) sin and 2) not sin but things that easily entangle us. This is the category, believe it or not, that I think requires the most thought. Most of our sin is pretty easy to see - at least for those of us that are "overt" sinners - the "thou shalt nots" are pretty clear. But the things that ensnare and entangle us - that's another matter and certainly one that I am slow to work out in my own life.

Ted M. Gossard said...

half-mom Susan,
Yes. You weren't the only one, probably, that had to do a double-take of that.

Good thoughts. Yes, the more subtle can end up being the more deadly, or at least debilitating.