Its the middle of the race when it is hardest!

I really have come to identify well with the Apostle Paul's statement at the end of his life, that he had run the race and finished the task. Races are something that we all can identify with. At one point or another we have all been in some kind of race or seen one. I've run in races, traithalons, mountain bike races as well. I've watched car races and the Tour de France. I've seen sprinters destroy world records and marathoners press the barriers of endurance. In Crossfit I test myself against the clock continuously. One thing I have found is that the most difficult part of any race comes in the middle. In the begining of any race the excitment of competition is there, either the prospect of taking the tape at the end or the crowd gathered to watch, the beginning is the easiest part. The end as well is accompnaied by some of the same things, crowds screaming for the eventual winner, or just looking at the clock and knowing that the end of the pain is almost in sight.

But its the middle that can be most troublesome. In the middle of the race there are less people to cheer you on and many times its lonely out there and you and your thoughts are all that is present. In the middle of a vicious metabolic conditioning workout its the most difficult, energy is being depleted, pain sets in, the temptaion to stop is at its height. It is the middle that requires the most concentration, the most endurance, the most fortitude.

On our way to church this evening we were listening to my daughter's favorite band called Need to Breath, and one of their songs talks about not turning back... "Tell me why I should run for cover...at the sound of the coming thunder...all I hear is the cry of my lover....so take your shot....I won't turn back"

In the middle of the race, the finish line is not enough to think about. Its got to be more personal that just the race. Many times in the middle of a painful workout I think of my wife, wierd.... but I do. I think of a person to get me through. In the middle of long road march I pray...to a person. I can't even get a handle on the finish its too far off.

I am finding my walk with Jesus, now in those middle years, much like that. The cheering crowds are far behind and the finish seems way out there. I find myself many times alone on the road, in painful circumstances. I see death around me some. It is during these times that I need a person to pull me through the middle of the race. I need a person who knows me, knows where I am, where I am going. I need a person who knows me deeply. I need a person that I can know deeply, who understands the road and that will be the spark of life when I am tempted to turn back.

So if you are in the middle with me, don't turn back. Don't give in to cynisism. Trust the person of Jesus, not the idea of Him. Relate to Him in the mundane like washing dishes or cleaning the gutters or in precious moments with those you love. The middle can be grand, becasue there really is a finish line and the most awesome thing about that is that the finish line of this road really is the begining.

Strength and Honor


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