Recently someone told me they were afraid about a new journey they are going on because they are starting it later in life than most. Isn't that like us to always compare ourselves to others or to what is "normal" in society? Whether it is a new job, a career change or going back to school, we put that added pressure on ourselves. Only in the last few years have I felt like I was doing what God called me to do, doing what I am passionate about. Did I waste time? Absolutely but I also know, thankfully, God used the former parts of my life to get me where I am now. Even my mess ups!
I was thinking about all of this when I read a devotion about how we discount the dedication of those who finish the race last. Instead we should be looking at their perseverance in finishing that race. I do not believe God cares when we cross the finish line but that we cross the finish line. Through those times when things don't go the way we think they should, we learn lots of additional lessons and sometimes that sends us on another route, a detour, or a roadblock. These times teach us compassion for others going through similar times. We also learn perseverance. I love the quote, "when you run alone, it's called race. And when God runs with you, it's called grace!"
God is our life planner. If I would have believed that in college I am sure my journey would have been different but I would not be who I am today. He used ALL of my mess to bring me to where He wanted me! We can persevere when we KNOW that God knows, plans and directs our lives for good. Romans 8: 28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Jesus used those struggles as a way to develop my relationship with Him. 1 Peter 1: 6-7, "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." When we truly commit to Jesus, we will persevere over the long term. We must keep our hope in Jesus and hold on to the confidence that He will do what He says. Hebrews 3: 6, "But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory."
The apostle Paul compares the pursuit of the Christian life to a footrace. His analogy shows the importance of persevering in the race of faith in order to attain our spiritual reward. 1 Corinthians 9: 24, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." We cannot rely on our own strength. We cannot try to accomplish too much too quickly or we will burn out. The finish line can seem too far away and we are tempted to quit. We must wait on God's timing, God's pace and God's route. When we continue the race, choosing commitment and discipline, God will give us that "second wind" that we need to persevere to the end. When we commit to obedience we can finish the course that God has set before us.
No matter what journey you are on, let us expect great things as we press toward the finish line for the calling God has on our life. Philippians 3: 14, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." We can claim victory through perseverance! Philippians 4: 13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
I believe life is always a journey and not a destination. I believe that finish line is just the beginning. When we learn about perseverance I believe we feel like 1 Peter 1: 8-9. "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."