Sunday, April 20, 2008

Faith and marathons

Well things have been an emotional whirlwind these last weeks. While I've been moving forward with what it means to operate as a pastor with Franklin Hill, my emotions and spirit have been BOMBARDED with discouragement and doubt about ever getting married. It so bugs me that THIS is the button that gets pushed when I start moving forward in other areas of my life. But I guess I shouldn't really be surprised since this is the one area where I am really just holding on to hope.

Fittingly, we're in the middle a church-wide fast and the readings that go along with it the stories from Hebrews 11. Lots of reminders that faith is moving forward based on God's promises, not on our understanding of things. And today's reading for me posed a difficult question: will I still move forward knowing that I -- like many faithful people before me -- may not see the fulfillment of what I hope for. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, but he never actually saw that.

I had another thought today as I was reading, brought on by a little side study in my Bible. It asks, "Why do people punish their bodies to run a grueling marathon race? Most runners name two reasons: the sense of personal reward they get and the physical benefits of exercise." I would add to that the camaraderie of training with somebody. I looked forward to the runs I got to do last spring with Lisa. We talked about everything, solved the problems of the world, and spurred each other forward. How thankful am I for my small group and the FHF family that is serving a similar purpose as I am hitting a sort of wall in this area of my life. But what happens when you hit the wall is what you have decided will happen when you hit the wall. And I'm gonna keep moving forward.

The article went on to say, "The same two rewards apply in the spiritual realm: great prizes await those who persevere, and the very process of living by faith builds strong character. In this race, no one loses. If you finish, you get the reward."

That lines up with the encouragement I received from my friend Steve last night. As I shared the process of the last week, he said, "This may seem like poor consolation, but you are storing up for yourself treasures in heaven. There will be a reward for following Jesus." Yes. That is good for me to remember.