Monday, October 21, 2013

Running Buddies

Runners (2109878771)
My husband and I are running again.  I told you before we are (slowly) training for a 5k, right?  So there we were back at the track after vacation.  We'd done our first 8 minute run, walked our 5 minutes and then he said it...

"Honey, I think I'm going to ease into this."  

I replied, "You mean you're going to walk?  That's ok.  But I'm going to run."  

He sighed.  And guess what?  He ran.  About half-way through the eternity that was 8 minutes of running, I was thinking, "This is totally a mistake.  I should have walked..." Then I looked over my shoulder at him running beside me.  I took a deep breath...and I ran.  

Everybody needs a running buddy. Somebody who is going to meet us at the track so we actually go. Somebody we can follow when we don't feel like running anymore. Someone who is counting on us so we don't give up.  

You need a running buddy too - a spiritual one. I want to suggest a few for you.  

1. The Sprinter

Romans 12 says, "not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." It's a passage describing the new life in Christ Jesus.  I'd love to be that girl who never lags behind the others, but sometimes I am the girl who is in the back of the pack hating the next step and sucking wind.  I need to see the diligence and fervency of a sister who is sprinting up ahead of me.  I need someone to set the standard so I can keep going. Not only do I need a track friend, I need a Christian friend who invites me to co-teach a class with her, who calls me when she is going to visit the sick to see if I want to come, who assumes that I'm going to be enthusiastic when she's collecting for "Coats for the cold." I need someone to follow!

2. The First Responder

Why do we really need running buddies?  Solomon pictures it this way in Ecclesiastes.  

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 

Because heaven help us if we break a leg and we are all alone!  In our Christian race these first responders to our emergencies.  James 5 says: 

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

I have friends that love me fiercely. Don't you?   I know that if I ever gave up, stopped worshiping, stopped praying, and stopped running, they would be on me like white on rice.  They'd be on Facebook, email, Skype and the phone.  They would never let me fall quietly without a word.  "Woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up."  

3. The Finisher

This guy is up in front of us.  He sets the pace.  He shows us the route.  We say to ourselves, "If he can keep going we can too."  In fact, it's a lot easier to look at him than to hang our heads and watch our feet fall.  He'll help us stick to it.  All we need to do is...

Run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Hebrews suggests that we not only have Jesus who runs ahead of us but we have a stadium full of the faithful watching us run. The Old Testament is full of them: Noah, Abraham, Jochebed, Moses, Rahab and a host of others.  Not only that, but later the Hebrew writer points out that our leaders also run ahead of us setting a path that we can successfully follow. (Hebrews 13:7) When our churches are healthy, each set of elders and their godly wives illustrates following Jesus in our local circumstances in a pattern we can imitate. 

There's one lesson here, I think we can't neglect.  All of these runners, run with us. No one makes it to the end of the Christian life alone.  It's a life surrounded by witnesses; each one following the footsteps of the Author and Finisher of our Faith. It's a life alongside of faithful sisters and brothers who help and are helped by us. Look around. Don't neglect your running buddies.  They need you as much as you need them.   
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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