10.00 am bank holiday monday. Unlike most people I know I’m out of bed running across the fields of winchester. Sweat clings to my shirt and my throat burns for just a drop of water. My mind keeps on repeating the words ‘keep on going, it’ll be worth it’ in a some sort of oscillating rhythm.
For around three years I’ve been suffering with chronic tendonitus in both my feet. For me this is tragic. One of my biggest loves in life (football) is becoming harder and harder to participate in. I struggle to play thirty minutes without having some sort of pain in my lower limbs. To counter this I have to look after myself and train hard when I can. I have to keep persevering for the prize that is pain free football. So many times I want to give up.
It was as I was running this bank holiday that I likened this absurd scenario to my faith. For in the same way as striving to be the best footballer I find living out the gospel of Christ hard, painful and unreasonable.
Its not that I don’t love God. For I do. Or at least when push comes to shove and there isn’t some other earthly reality knocking on the door I realise that the one foundation in my life that doesn’t budge is God. He has always been there for me, even when I’ve turned away.
Running the race of life is so challenging. Even working in the ‘safe’ realms of a church running the race for Christ is not always easy, sometimes even harder. There are times where I fail God with the same things over and over again. I feel guilty, guilty enough to hide myself from God perhaps in the same way Adam and Eve did in the garden. There are times where i feel Christ holds me back from life, where it seems the things I want to do don’t seem to correlate with the patterns of the gospel. There are times where my own desire to follow the gospel seem to be hindered by the authority of church hierarchy. There are times when I just doubt there’s a God at all. It’s in these moments I want to give it all up. If it the gospel is all or nothing (a principle that has perhaps been lost in western theology) then I stray towards the nothing. Just like when I go for a run and pain arises or laziness subdues by sight I want to give up.
I guess we’ve al felt like this. We want to throw in the towel. I was at a point like this recently and I forced myself to come to God. I’d not picked up my bible for a while and I’d not really talked to God in a while.
I just remember God saying “David. Even if you’ve given up on me. I’ve not given up on you.” These words shook my hard heart and drove me to a place of anguish as I came before God and laid bare the state of my heart. Despite the pain I chose not to give up and keep running the race of life, knowing that through my pain God had been there with me. It’s not as if I had a picture of him doing that, nor did I really feel him at the time, I just knew.
The purpose of this story is I guess a challenge to our own lives. Are we persevering in our lives? Are we striving for Christ? I wasn’t and in many areas of my life I don’t. But I know God hasn’t given up on me or you. Some how this perfect God allows me to be a part of his mission on earth. Somehow he still calls me by name and forgives me for all the stuff I do that is crap. This is our God. Lets keep striving for him.
Some words that resonated with me at an all night prayer vigil were these.
“they live as if it all depends on them, and pray as if it all depends on God”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could say this about us
Hope this stirs a thought and encourages those of us who, like me, feel like giving up on race. Feel free to get involved in this discussion and add.