Can God Get Glory from My Life?
by Dominique Henderson
The Christian Life=A Hard Race
When I ran track in high school and college, I specifically remember a drill that we did that involved us running past our target. Since my individual specialty was the 200m, in practice my coach often made me run 300m so that my endurance for the 200m would be improved. This accomplished a lot of things for me. For one, I was never tired during the 200m in the meet because I’d so often run past 200m to achieve my goal in practice. And probably most importantly I was able to sustain my fastest speeds longer than my competition at critical points during the race. This concept of building endurance while running track provides an excellent metaphor for what I would like to share with you today. In Hebrews 12, the writer compares the Christian life to a race. The comparison is probably so illustrative to me because I was a competitive runner for a while. But every Christian should be able to identify with this example of endurance and perseverance required while walking with Christ. In the movie Hitch, Will Smith defined perseverance as "continuing in a course of action without regard to discouragement, opposition or previous failure". Please pardon the secular reference but the definition is great in context of our spiritual walk. Jesus has called us to take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24). We do this by denying our selfish ambitions and motives. We do this by not taking into account that the world will not understand us. We do this by considering we may have to disassociate ourselves from “friends and family” that are not a part of our calling and mission (see Genesis 13:8-9). We do this by considering we may have to lose a great job or leave a church in order to follow our call. “…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. I once attended a men’s conference and one of the speakers reminded us that God has called us for a specific task in the kingdom. If we forget that God has sought us out and saved us from a world of sin to do his bidding (not our own), we can easily become discouraged because we have lost the focus. God has “marked out for us", as Hebrews states, a specific duty in his kingdom. There is a question that only you can answer. There is a problem for which only you hold the solution. This is why we can’t give up just because it is hard. Relating back to my track example, there were many days that I wanted to skip practice and not run those sprints. There were days that as I ran I could feel the lactic acid building up and my muscles would start to ache and throb with pain, but I knew that if I could just make it through this round that I would get a break to recover. God is the great coach and he pushes us and pushes us so that we become vessels of greater glory for his use. Just like my track coach knew that if I would stick with the running program I would be a better runner is the same way that God sees the greatness that lies ahead for you and I.
Enduring the Tough Times
Finishing well should be our goal. Not many people remember the 2place or 3place finisher. Have you ever heard of a buzz surrounding the world’s 2nd fastest man? Probably not. As Christians, we should focus on enduring the hardships of walking after Christ with joy because God has a definite, pre-designed plan for us. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are his workmanship created in Christ for good works prepared in advance. God has already prepared the blueprint of my life and your life to accomplish good works. Isn’t that great news? Since this is the case, we can go through every storm that life presents us with joy and assurance in knowing that God is working this out for our good so that we can be conformed to his image (see James 1:2-4 and Romans 8:28-29). James clearly tells us that if we don’t let patience have its perfect work that we will lack completion and maturity. This says to me that to avoid the storm or complain in the storm is not letting “patience have her perfect work”.
I’ll conclude by reciting (to the best of my knowledge) a story I heard once. In 1945, three men were at the forefront of evangelism in the United States. Their ministries were attracting people by the droves. They all possessed charisma and fervor in their preaching styles and many were not only hearing the gospel but being changed by its powerful message. These vessels were being used so mightily by God that they were head and shoulders above their counterparts in the gospel. The names of these men were Chuck Templeton, Ron Clifford and Billy Graham. Most of us (even those my age) have heard only of Billy Graham. The question is naturally, why? Especially when I tell you that of the three, Billy Graham was considered by most at that time as the 3best of them all. The story goes that the other two did not finish well. Mr. Chuck Templeton soon after 1945 started to struggle with believing the divinity of Jesus Christ and subsequently attended Princeton Theological Seminary to later leave the faith and become an atheist. He died from Alzheimer’s disease in the early 1990s. Mr. Ron Clifford and his wife had two children both born with Down’s syndrome. This being too much for Mr. Clifford he left his family and became an alcoholic and was found dead from cirrhosis in a hotel room. There cannot be enough said for the Christian that decides to finish well. The one that wants to hear the Master say, “Well done”.
Finish well my friend, finish well.
Lord help me to realize that you have planned the best life for me. You are coordinating every step that I take so that I can be of greater use to you. Give me the strength to fight through the hardships and trials to see what you have for me in the end. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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