Well, most stories or fables don't begin with a moral, but the famed fable behind this moral is not the point of my story. Still with me?
Do you ever have one of those weeks where you keep hearing the same "catch phrase" or platitude? This is kind of like that, but not exactly.
This week, I keep waking up with these six words on my mind. Which of course makes me ask the question: why?
I haven't heard this story or phrase in a long time. So, I asked the Lord to show me what the reason might be for Him putting this on my heart. I went to Wikipedia and read the fable. Nothing popped out at me. Hmm. So, I turned to the Word and just happened to open to Hebrews 12:1-
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (ESV)
Surprisingly, with "the race" being on my mind, the words that stuck out to me weren't "run the race." Actually, what jumped off the page were the words "with endurance."
Through research in my Greek dictionary of the NT, I learned that the word was initially translated as patience (KJV). When I found the Greek word, I was surprised to see that it literally means: "a remaining under", "patient enduring" and my favorite--"cheerful (or hopeful) endurance" and usually refers to enduring life's trials.
So what does this all mean to me?
First, I wanted to know how Webster defined the word "endure." What I got: "to come to a knowledge of (something) by living through it."
Nice. Now I'm getting somewhere.
Because this is where I begin to understand why I've been so confused in my race, lately. God has been shining light into my life and glaringly revealing many impurities that are both embarassing and unnerving.
They say beauty is skin deep, but I know that ugly reaches all the way down to the soul.
That ugliness is my flesh, my sin nature, who I am without Christ. How I long to be rid of it! But lately, even though I feel like the blinders have been taken off to my condition, I feel as though I've made no progess in my race. I keep asking God to refine me and snap me out of this "me-focused" way of life, but...nothing. Well, seemingly nothing.
I now am starting to understand that I'm gaining knowledge by going through this. But I haven't attained that wisdom yet. I am enduring. I am remaining under that knowledge until I am through this. It is beyond my reach. It is above my understanding. I am under it, for now. Got it.
What I also know is that while I am waiting, I need to maintain an attitude of hope, to cheerfully endure, so as not to shift the focus to my suffering (as a pharisee might have), but to His grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9-
"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (ESV)
So, I boast. I am weak and without understanding, but thank goodness that His power is made perfect in my weakness. Oh Jesus, let your power rest on me.
Slowly, steadily I run this race. The thing is, Christ has already won the race set before me. So, the journey can and should be cheerful and hopeful. The victory is already mine in Christ!