Are you ready? Get set. Go!
We treat the beginning of things often as a race. We even call the national election a “presidential race” as if the candidates were running across the country in order to win our hearts and our votes. Trust me, I had my reasons for casting my vote the way I did, but the candidate did most assuredly not win my heart, and neither do I place my trust or my hope in the office of the president.
Were they really running? I mean, they managed to spend an obscene amount of money trying to convince us that we should support them, but they were not literally running a race.
My father ran a race last weekend. He completed his second marathon, with a better time than he had last year, and this year he had been injured two days before. The amount of dedication and endurance that goes into preparing for and running a race like that is amazing. It displays more about the character of those who run a physical race than I may have ever seen from our candidates.
This week I worshipped in three different All Saints services. In the scripture and prayers in the service, we talk about the “cloud of witnesses” that run ahead of us and cheer us on as we run the race set before us. We remember those who have run ahead, set the pace, marked the trail before us, and yet there still seem to be ways that we have to blaze our own trails.
We begin on the journey. But, unlike a sprint, we know the journey is long, hard, and will continue even much longer than it takes to complete a marathon… this is not the work of a morning, or even a single day. This is a journey that will last your lifetime.
Looking ahead, it can seem like the journey is too long, that the effort to complete it will be too strenuous, that more pain and tears will wash through our lives than we can bear. Too many people will ask for too many things of us. Too many sacrifices will be needed of us. We don’t even know if we will have enough for ourselves. The danger in looking forward like this is that you can scare yourself out of beginning. The danger, the temptation is that you can convince yourself that the hardship is not worth the journey. Surely nothing is worth that much heartache.
Consider the alternative. If you do not take this journey, you will be do something else. Trust me, a choice to not do something is a choice to do something else. Change will happen, and a journey will take place, it just may be in a different direction.
This journey that has been laid before you, the path that is set out for you to follow, the trail that you must blaze is not going to be easy. But, if it is in line with God’s will, it will make your heart come alive, and that will be worth the tears, the pain, the hardship, the unjust and indifferent people in the midst of their own rocky journeys.
The project may seem too big now. But begin anyway. The journey may ask for all you have. But start out anyway. The path may be rocky and threaten to trip you up. But stand firm and walk in faith anyway.
This journey is not a sprint, it is not a simple race with winners and losers. Those who will win this race are those who continue to faithfully attend to the journey. The only way to lose is to cease to try. So when it seems that all is lost, and the only thing left to do is give up, take heart. Go rest in peace, and look with clear eyes. And when you look, don’t take out the binoculars, to see the whole mountain. Instead, look at the next step. No one can see the whole journey but God. We faithfully continue on our journey, one step at a time.