This past September I ran my first half-marathon. Correction, I ran and walked my first half-marathon. Early in the race I was really proud of myself. I had passed a couple of ladies about my same age. As I passed them I thought to myself, “They will never make it the full 13.1 miles.” Fast forward about an hour and a half later at mile marker ten where I was shuffling my feet like Mr. Magoo. The same two ladies that I passed earlier ran by me at the same pace they started with when they began the race. It was like the tortoise and the hare. At that moment I was reminded of the biblical concept that the race is not given to the swift, but to those who endure to the end (Ecclesiastes 9:11 & 2 Timothy 2:12).
The Christian journey is a lot like running a long-distance race. You can be the fastest sprinter in the race, but if you can’t make it to the end you forfeit the right to any rewards. In a similar way, Christians must also endure to the end of their race. The Apostle Paul explained to Timothy that if we die with him [Jesus], we will also live with him; and if we endure, we will also reign with him (2 Timothy 2:11-12). In essence, Paul was telling Timothy that living out the gospel requires great spiritual endurance.
What does that endurance look like for the Christian? Earlier in the passage Paul gives Timothy three examples of endurance. They include a soldier who is singularly focused on his commander’s orders – not distracted with civilian affairs; an athlete who runs according to the rules – disqualification is not an option; and the hard-working farmer that leaves no room for slothful living.
Perhaps you are like me. Sometimes the race seems hard and you wonder if you will finish well. Thankfully, we serve a God that is always faithful, even when we struggle. Because of the risen Christ we have all we need to make it to the finish line (2 Timothy 2:13).