Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trust in the Lord...

The Run

This morning was another 6 mile run, a little earlier than usual because I had to get to work early. I woke at 3:30 instead of 4:00 and headed out at 4:30. I took it a little slower than yesterday, and plan to not push the pace the rest of the week. Right now my plan to finish the week is another 6 miles tomorrow, 6 more on Friday, then an easy 5 mile bike ride on Saturday. The Little Rock Half is on Sunday and I plan to shoot for a sub 2 hour finish if everything feels right at the start.

The weather looks perfect for a PR, but it's almost too great a forecast. Last year we started in the low 50s and temps had risen to the low 70s by the time I finished the full. This time looks perfect and I'm only running the half. The race directors are accepting transfers right up to the expo and it's really tempting to switch, but I've got to remember why I signed up for the half in the first place...because I felt like that was what God was telling me to do. So I'll resist the temptation and just shoot for a PR in the half, but that weather forecast still looks mighty inviting!

And that brings today's message on resisting temptation...

The Message

It wasn't really too long ago when I finally figured out that God speaks to us all the time. Most of my life I spent wishing God would just spell out exactly what He expects of me so there would be no doubt. It always seemed like following His will would be easy if I just knew for sure what His will was. What I didn't realize was that He's been speaking to me my whole life. I simply didn't recognize it because I really wasn't looking for it.

For as long as I can remember, there's been a little voice inside my head that warned me when I was about to do something wrong. The same voice also pointed out the right choice when I was faced with a decision between what I wanted to do and what I should do. That little voice is what we call our conscience and it took me 40+ years to figure out it's the number one way God speaks to me.
" 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." -- Proverbs 3:5-6

A lot of times our conscience tells us to do exactly the opposite of what we want to do. Someone invites us somewhere we know we shouldn't go, but it sure sounds fun. We see a chance to get something that's not quite on the up and up, but it sure would be nice to have. There are lots of other similar scenarios, but you get the point. We have a choice to make between what we know is right and what seems more attractive at the time. These times are when God is speaking to us through our conscience.

Our understanding is of the flesh. What appears to be most pleasing right now? What would make us feel satisfied this instant? These are the questions our understanding brings to mind. The answers to these questions often conflict with what's right and good, but those are the answers we'll follow if we lean on our own understanding. But following our conscience, doing what's right even though we know it won't feel as good in the short term, that's trusting in the Lord. That's trusting Him to follow through on His promise.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" -- Galatians 6:9

That's the promise. That if we do good, what's right in the sight of God, we will be rewarded one day. It's hard to work for a delayed reward in this day and age. The world tells us we should be gratified instantly for our efforts or we're being wronged. But God never promised instant gratification. His promise is that whatever we go through on this earth will be insignificant compared to what we'll enjoy afterward.
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." -- Romans 8:18

Think about that. Our suffering on earth will be insignificant, it will pale in comparison, to the glory we'll see when our time here is finished! That's a promise that our reward may be delayed, but it will be oh-so-worth-the-wait! And that's the hope we have to hold to in order to resist temptation here in this life.

If we really believe Jesus will follow through on that promise, the promise that our eternity will be spent in such a fantastic place that all the suffering we endure here on earth will seem like nothing, it's a lot easier to forgo the momentary pleasures of the flesh. It makes it a lot easier to avoid the temptation to go against God's will for some temporary pleasure.

In my mind, that huge finisher's medal for the marathon would look a lot nicer hanging in my house than the smaller medal I'll receive for the half. Finishing the full would be a lot more impressive to others than finishing the half. Completing the 26.2 mile course would seem like much more of a personal accomplishment than finishing the 13.1 miles of the half. All of this makes it really tempting to ignore that little voice through which God's been speaking to me. Add in that this is the first year the race directors have allowed transfers this late in the game, add in the perfect running weather predicted for Sunday, add in..., add in..., just keep adding all the things that point to pretty much perfect day to run a full marathon, and it's really hard to resist the urge to switch.

But I've got to keep my eye on the prize and remember why I'm here and who I serve. It's not about me, my pride, or my vanity. It's all about glorifying God. He's the One I'll kneel before when my life here is over. He's the One I'll have to answer for when I draw my last breath. He's the One I should be working to

Looking at it through those glasses makes it a lot easier to resist the temptation. It makes it a lot easier to follow God's will and not my own.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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