As the year quickly rolls to an end, I find myself thinking about these words, “Stay on course”. The idea comes from Paul, whose longing and passion in life was to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, even at his own life’s expense. As he writes the book of Timothy to a dear friend and disciple of his, he shares beautiful life lessons that any follower of Jesus would love to receive from a mentor; a dear soul writing and instructing you on how to handle life’s problems? Yes, please! So often, we feel alone and unsure, don’t we?
I find, as my children get older, I’m on my knees more and more begging God to mold their hearts and call them to Him. Despite my best intentions to teach them, I’m not in charge of the result and so at times, I feel helpless. I know in my head that this will be the biggest trust lesson of my life, but my own heart struggles to let go and just trust Him to take care of the details.
I read Paul’s words towards the end of his crazy, body-beaten, gospel-preaching life and I’m encouraged to stay on course. He speaks to Timothy in what seems to be a reminiscent fashion, similar to what we might do on this very day as the year ends. He says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And his crowns await in glory.
You and I may not be at the end of our lives, but each year, as the calendar page turns and the clock strikes midnight, we are again at a crucial point. How we choose to begin this next year and where we choose to go from here will significantly impact how we finish our race.
I’m a runner and I actually enjoy very long runs of 15+ miles. It’s hard and that’s probably part of what I love about it. I like to challenge myself to do hard things and when I finish, the exhilarating and exhausting feeling fuels me to do it all over again. But sometimes, the hardest part of running, is getting out of bed, lacing up my shoes, and walking out the door. The bed seems cozy. My feet feel tired. I could simply just stay home. But then, I’d never know the feeling of working through mile 8, or mile 14. I’d never have learned how to refuel along the way so that I keep enough energy to stay on my feet. I’d never have experienced the mental battle of running that calls me to just “give up”. As I fight through it, as I stay on course, I get stronger and my confidence grows.
This is what the Christian life is like. Some seasons are filled with disappointment or grief so heavy that you just want to give up. Some seasons are filled with little children, whose sticky hands and inconsolable tantrums leave you fatigued and wanting nothing more than a cozy bed and maybe some clean clothes! Some seasons, you’ll pour out and serve others so faithfully that you look back and realize God was using YOU and it’s good thing that you stayed on course. Sometimes, you’ll tell a person about Jesus and you realize that God used you to change their whole life and perhaps the lives of their entire family. You might feel tired and worn out at times, but if you stay on course, and refuel as necessary, there will be innumerable blessings for you. Our faithful God has promised!
As you finish 2015 and begin the New Year, what is your plan to stay on course?