Ephesians 4:1-3 (MSG)
In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk- better yet, run!- on the road GOD called you to travel. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline- not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
Have you ever started something only to find yourself not finishing it? This is a lesson it took me a long time to learn and I am still learning. You get all excited, ready to go, you are focused and have a set goal in mind (especially at times like the beginning of the new year). But you soon find yourself tapering off of your original goal. Many times we (myself included) are full of zeal and great intentions, but we have forgotten to mix zeal with humility and discipline. There’s an old saying my college track and field coach used to have in her office, “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”. Next to the saying there was a picture of a little turtle taking it’s time to finish the race.
When it comes to cross country and long distance running, this principle definitely has it’s place. When it comes to life, it is also very applicable. We want to be runners, not jumpers- jumping from focus to focus, assignment to assignment, excitement to excitement…but never finishing what we start because we see a new opportunity in front of our eyes. Our eyes begin to swell with vision but a few months later it will all be soon forgotten. This is a cycle that can be broken with a small dosage of humility and discipline. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline- not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love…
As we grow in GOD, we realize that we need to pace ourselves. I’ve been in many long distance races where I’ve beat another runner simply due to endurance. The inexperienced runner thinks they will win the race through starting out really fast, full of zeal. But the experience runner allows them to go ahead and burn themselves out. She knows that it’s only a matter of time before that person will slow down or completely stop. The newby has the right goal in mind (to run as hard and as fast as possible) but her plan of execution is lacking. She didn’t think about strategy and how long she will be able to continue at this pace.
Many times, I was able to be successful running because I was coached to know myself- know my limitations, know how much gas I have left in my tank. My flesh wanted to just get it over quickly, pass through the process, the painful part. But this is not possible when you have three, ten or fifteen miles ahead of you. You win by getting into a rhythm and focusing on keeping that rhythm. You are ultimately racing against yourself.
So the next time I get faced with another grand idea of how I am going to save the world, I must stop, write the vision, make it plain and begin to plan how this is possible based on the current priorities in my life. Then I began to pray about timing and how to gradually execute this vision.
No more fits and starts! But steadily, we will pour ourselves out for each other in acts of love. This is just as valuable as the heroic, zealous moment of love. We must convince ourselves that even in the mundane, just like that little turtle we are going to slowly win the race.
Lord Jesus, we pray that you will help us to understand the value of endurance. We are not as much as interested in passion and zeal as commitment and discipline. Mix our passion with a renewed sense of discipline. Help us to pace ourselves. Sometimes we get so excited that we want to take everything on at once, but we must remember the times we’ve done that in the past and soon lost our focus. Let this be a year of slow and steady progress, remembering our resolutions and commitments to you. We are in it for the long haul and we want our love for others to be poured out gradually, consistently. This is what the world longs for out of the church; this is what we need from one another. Use our gifts and elevate us in our callings. In Your Precious Name we pray. Amen.
Have you ever burned yourself out trying to run the right race too quick? I encourage you to take a step of faith- share your story with others and be an encouragement. Or maybe you’re realizing that you’re about to bite off more than you can chew. We’ve all been there before! If you’d like to write a prayer requests, feel free to do so below and we will pray for one another…