I have a great deal of respect for the marathon runner. It takes an extreme amount of discipline and determination to train for a 26.2 mile race. The hours, the distance, the terrain, the weather, the body aches, and the fatigue that they endure is at times, I’m sure, more than they can bear. Yet, they continue to run. Why? They have disciplined their mind, will and emotions to keep going until they reach the finish line.
I discovered many years ago that becoming a disciple of Jesus was going to be costly (Matthew 15:25-35). Not only would I have to repent of a LOT of sins, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me not continue in the same cycles, but I discovered that having a relationship with God was going to require quite a bit of work. I was going to have to be disciplined and begin training to run my race that He had set out before me. Now, I have to be completely honest- my initial training was, well, pretty pitiful. I only read my bible & prayed on Sundays, or the occasional Tuesday mornings (when I attended a women’s bible study). And worship only happened when the worship leader chose just the right song that would speak to my current emotion state and make me feel good (of course, that wasn’t really worship- it was more about me focusing on me). Many years later, I eventually realized that my half-hearted attempt to fulfill my “Christian” duties was not producing the fruit that I desired in my life, nor was it giving me life to the fullest! So, I began praying (on other days of the week!) to ask the Lord to give me the desire to want to read His word and communicate with Him, and worship Him. Then I got my lazy hind parts out of bed and cracked open the book that had been lying unopened on my shelf for so many years! It was a few more years before the word of God actually began to take root in my heart, and my ears began to hear, and my eyes began to see, yet I continued to discipline myself to do the training that was required to reach the finish line.
10+ years into my marathon, there are days that I am not a disciplined disciple. Some days I just don’t feel like getting out of bed and reading the word. Some days my emotions are so raw from grief of disappointment that I just don’t want to talk to God or worship Him. Fortunately, I run my race for a merciful, gracious & loving God, who doesn’t stand at the finish line yelling at me to get my sneakers on and get going!!! Instead, when I finally engage my will, & ask Him for help, He brings me a bottle of His living water, and sits with me on the sidelines until I am re-hydrated and ready to resume my race.
You can’t be a runner if you aren’t disciplined to train every day. Likewise, you can’t be a disciple if you aren’t disciplined to meet with The Creator of your race every day. Yeah, the hours, the distance, the terrain, the weather, the body aches, and the fatigue that you will endure, may at times, be more than they you bare, but when you reach the finish line you will be able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me- the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return”
2 Timothy 4:7-8.