Sometimes you just want to stop the roller coaster in mid-ride. You’ve had enough big rises and belly-dropping falls, enough twists and turns. You got on the ride to have some fun, but now you want to get off.
Only the roller coaster doesn’t stop. The ride isn’t over. You have no choice but to hang on and keep going, even though you really don’t want to. Even if you’re not sure how. It’s no fun anymore.
Run the race with endurance, God tells us in Hebrews 12. God is big on finishing. You don’t stop before the end zone; you don’t quit before the finish line. The ride isn’t over. Runners will tell you that you need to build up your endurance as you train your body for greater distances, which means greater resistance, physically and mentally. You are not naturally built for running the race. You were not equipped at the factory with a perseverance module already installed. You grow gradually, as your mind and body encounter the resistance that enhances muscle mass. You learn to embrace the resistance and even attack it. You discover how to overcome the smaller setbacks, so that eventually you can conquer the major ones. And finish the race.
You can usually tell which team has taken their training more seriously by how they handle the most exciting word in sport: overtime (or double overtime, or triple overtime). Which team has the legs and the lungs to keep pressing, to keep moving, to finish. At that point in the game, skill is nice but stamina is even better. Stamina starts long before the first game is played. So where do you get it? Where does all this endurance come from? How are you supposed to finish, when you can’t take even one more step?
In Hebrews, before the running, it says to set aside every weight that hinders and every sin that entangles. So I need to unload the baggage I keep dragging around – the incidental weight dropped on me from Who-knows-where; and the self-inflicted kind, that I did to myself. In other words, I have to overcome the history that’s holding me down and holding me back. That sounds great. But how? I try, but I fail.
That’s where Jesus steps in. He carries your luggage and then puts it away. He untangles you from all your doubts and failures. He hears you. He calms you. And He is training you to keep running, to finish the race. The next line in Hebrews provides the ultimate strategy: …and let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Look to Jesus, who never leaves us alone nor gives up on us. Consider Him who endured for us, and now endures with us and in us and through us. Search for the strength of the One through whom we have peace with God and grace from God, as He turns suffering into perseverance into character into hope.
Trust that Christ who lives in you is also still with you, just as He promised. You can do all things, not through your own strength or willpower or self-help, but through Christ who strengthens you. His endless and unconditional supply of grace not only saves you from you, but lifts you, carries you, and crowns you victorious. Because of Jesus, you’ve won the race.
After a particularly bad day. Or week. Or month. Or year. He never stops, never quits, never fails. And when the ride is over, you’ll realize He was at the controls the whole time. He’s still here. He’s got this. He’s got you.
It is finished.