By your endurance you will gain your lives. -Jesus (Luke 21.19)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12.1)
Message 5 in a 7-part series for men entitled "Cheating the Thief" examines how, if men are to be productive and life-giving, they must not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9, Colossians 1:11)
Discipline is the disposition to follow a "higher" calling over lesser urges. Perseverance is nothing more than being disciplined for the long haul.
My friend Rich was an elite middle distance runner throughout the 90's. He tells a great story of a guy that used to race in those days. This guy would be in the lead of every race at the half-mile mark and then he bonked. As far as Rich can remember, the dude never won a single race.
Any one of us can be disciplined for a choice or two (or maybe even three), but productivity and life flow out of a man who is disciplined for the entire race. Contrast "half-mile man" with Ryan Hall and his performance in Monday's Boston Marathon.
Hall, whose 2:06:17 from London in 2008 was the quickest time of any runner in Monday's Boston Marathon, pushed the pace almost immediately after the start in Hopkinton and ensured some fast early splits, but he had drifted back to ninth place by 16 miles. He eventually worked his way up to a third place finish in 2:09:40 behind winner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia and Daniel Rono of Kenya in second. "I was working hard to stay engaged and keep encouraging myself," Hall explains. His coach, Terrence Mahon, gave Hall an "A" grade for his Boston performance. "We're not going to accomplish all the goals right off the bat, but I don't think 'A' has to be 'winning,'" Mahon maintains. "It's a process.... He (Hall) is going to fine-tune the skills. He's going to be here for years."
Ryan looked pretty rough after 16, but for about 20,000 steps, he didn't give in to the lower urge to give up and drift back. His performance was an amazing picture of perseverance.
Don't Be "Half-Mile Man"
If you are plagued by
- Unfinished projects,
- An inability to develop good habits or to kick bad habits,
- Anger and impatience in a season of illness or hard circumstances,
- A lack of longevity in intimate relationships,
- An inability to faithfully do anything without accountability, or
- A frantic life that seems to make no forward progress
then you might be "half-mile man" and you must change or risk handing over your life to the Thief.
The good news is that, through the Gospel, God has provided the stuff needed to persevere like R-Hall (Gal. 5:24, Gal. 6:14 and 2 Cor. 9:8)! See how as we look at Luke 21.12-19, Galatians 6.7-10, Ephesians 6.13-18, Colossians 1.11, Hebrews 10.34-39 and Hebrews 12.1-5.