I didn't have any real direction in my Bible reading this morning to begin with. When I finally got myself awake and to the place where I could have a quiet time, I realized all I had was my Bible, no Bible study or workbook to guide me. I usually hate that, but this morning I really felt like God led me to the passage He wanted me to be in. I started by looking at my memory passage, 1 Peter 1:13-16, that says "Gird up the loins of your mind", and I glanced down at the footnotes, which led me to Hebrews 12:1. I've read this passage millions of times, but this morning some new things struck me. Don't you love how God's Word really is alive and active, no matter how many times you read it???! Anyway, the end of the verse says, ". . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." First I envisioned life as a race, set out before us. So many times, we can't really see what's ahead. We may see the very next step, but we don't know if we're about to run through some mud and muck, or climb a steep hill, or enjoy a downhill slope. We can't look at a map of the race and see what all we will have to endure and when the finish line will come. For some of us, the race is a 5k, for others, it's a marathon. We just have to run it with endurance. Whatever "it" turns out to be: uphill, downhill, smooth pavement, rough terrain. It doesn't say to run the easy parts with endurance and then take breaks or quit when the hill is too steep. It doesn't even say "walk the race briskly." No, it says to run with endurance.
Then I thought about the word "endurance". Whenever enduring is mentioned in the Bible, and for that matter in life, it's never something good that we endure. Endure temptation. Endure hardship. Endurance is not for the faint-hearted. I've watched some of my favorite people endure great tragedy through the death of their child recently. They are running the race with endurance. I know there have been times when I have felt like all I was doing was enduring. To run a race with endurance pretty much guarantees it will be hard. Otherwise we wouldn't have to have endurance at all, it would be a walk in the park.
A few verses later, it says "Therefore, strengthen the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet." Where else does it talk about straight paths in the Bible? Somewhere in Psalms, I know it says that God will make our paths straight if we follow Him. The ONLY way to make straight paths for our feet is to follow Him. Up the hills, down again, rough and rocky terrain. Even when we don't have a map. Even when we can't see the next step.
Sometimes it's scary to think that I may have to endure tragedy like my friends have, losing a child, or maybe losing my husband, or my parents, or even suffering some illness myself. I have no idea what is ahead in my race and what heartaches may be just around the corner. My job for now is to strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees, and train for godliness, so that when (not if) bad things happen, I can keep running with endurance. God help me be faithful to the task.