Have you ever focused on a runner’s face as he crosses the finish line? In one moment the sacrifice of hard training is surpassed by incredible joy. He has reached his goal. Does he stop at this point? No. Not only must he remain in shape for the next race, but he must train for different hardships the next race presents. To finish the next race he is ready to embrace discipline once more. The joy of accomplishment surpasses the cost of any sacrifice.
Our spiritual lives are the same. Without spiritual training in righteousness we will not know the joy of crossing the finish line. Spiritual training involves throwing off everything that deters us from the goal. We run the race with perseverance when we determine to be pushed to the limit (Hebrews 12:1).
The only way to run the race with endurance is to focus every spiritual muscle upon Jesus Christ. The race began the moment he breathed spiritual life into us, and continues until the finish life of eternal life is reached. The little joys of sacrifice along the way are what carry us to the joy crossing the final finish line brings.
We realize the joy of personal sacrifice when we understand the great cost of His sacrifice. He endured the cross because of the joy that was to come. He endured the pain for the joy of resurrection. Yet in the moment of personal trial we forget He paid the ultimate price, and in the struggle we forget He is there to help us carry the load. We miss the opportunity to grow because our eyes are not fixed upon Him but upon our problem (Hebrews 12:2).
When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are adopted by God as His child. Because He loves you as a heavenly father, God disciplines you and tells you not to lose heart or become discouraged (Hebrews 12:5). When we understand who we are in Christ, we know Him as a loving father who only has our welfare at heart. We know the hardships we face are meant to create a stronger bond with Him, so we look for the lesson in them. (Roman 8:28). God pushes us to the limit for our own welfare, and for no other reason.
This Truth is only discovered when we embrace disciple.
We embrace that which we love. We hold it close to our heart. Such love has the power to hurt terribly or bring incredible joy. If we love Jesus we embrace His training during good and bad times. It means that we understand its eternal value in our lives. We discover incredible spiritual joy when we allow the Lord to reveal the good that comes from a hardship.
Jesus Christ urges us to finish our race, and to finish it well. Often we don’t hear His voice because we are not willing to embrace His discipline. If we really loved Him we would embrace the hardship that comes and hold on to it until the lesson has spurred us to greater faith in Him.
You are running a spiritual marathon. Life is the race. The problems of life pull the breath out of you, but you are seeking the second wind of His Spirit. The Lord runs beside you coaching you on to greater heights. Each pounding step helps you understand a little more of the cost of His sacrifice.
You cannot understand the depths of such a love until you count some of the cost. Embrace the discipline that comes through hardship. Love it for the lesson and training in righteousness that it brings. Look to Him who is the author and the finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). He is the one who carries you through the race of life, and who will complete the good work in you (Philippians 1:6)