Years ago, I was in really good shape. I was running around ten miles a day at an eight minute pace, and I was feeling super-healthy and fit. However, as time has worn on, I’ve grown out of the habit of pushing myself…that is until recently, when I decided to give it another go. Having walked to the church one particular day, I was already in my workout clothes, and since there’s a loop nearby that’s about four and a half miles long, I resolved to run it. After starting, I maintained a nice easy pace, so I breezed through the first two and a half miles with no problem, but something happened in the next half mile. As I pressed on, I became more and more exhausted — I could feel my heart pounding, I was sweating, and honestly, I was reminded that I’m not as young as I used to be. At that point, my mind began swirling, and I must have given myself a hundred reasons to give up. I paged through a catalog of excuses as to why I should quit jogging and just walk the rest of the way…but somehow, I kept going. To add insult to injury, as my thoughts continued to assault me and my legs screamed because they felt like they were on fire, I tripped on a couple of stairs and nearly fell. As you can imagine, at that point, I came even closer to surrendering my pace. However, just as I got back on course, I looked ahead and saw the church in the distance again. When the finish line was finally near, I realized that while I had been busy giving myself reasons to stop, I had almost completed the course. With my destination now in sight, I was overcome by a second wind, I pressed through the pain, and completed the loop at a running pace. Though I stumbled when I reached the church, there was a great internal reward for not giving up.
My friend, the most difficult stretch of the journey happens when you are more than halfway there. The beginning is easy and the end is filled with the hope that comes from the destination being in sight, but the middle is tedious. Even so, I urge you to press on. While you may not feel like you’re “in-shape” or prepared to deal with your present challenges, God will give you the strength you need to endure. While multitudes of internal and external voices tell you to give up, the Holy Spirit beckons you to keep going, as He sustains your body, mind, and spirit moment-by-moment. Even if it’s imperceptible, you are making progress, and before you know it, the finish line will emerge on the horizon, and you will understand afresh how important it was to run unto completion!