Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Fight Between the Ears

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-3

If there’s one thing that being married to a runner has taught me is that the most difficult part of running is the battle between the ears.  Our bodies can do far more than we believe, and often it’s those thoughts of failure that cause us to quit, to give up.  If you listen to the signals from the body, the pain in the ankles, the soreness in the calves, then you will quit!  That’s why we must train our minds as much as we train our bodies.  If you allow your mind to consume you with thoughts of failure and inadequacy, you will fail.

The writer of Hebrews, which some believe was Paul, addresses the race that we are all running – the race of Christian life.  He says that we are to look to Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, and speaks of His race, and how he endured the cross, the shame, and successfully completed His race.  By “looking unto” Jesus we allow Him to be our mentor.  We place our focus on the One who has succeeded in this race, and don’t look around us at those who fail daily.  Who you look to for advice and guidance is a very important decision in anything you do because the student rarely excels above the teacher.

So I ask you, who is your Christian mentor?  Don’t answer Jesus too quickly.  If your faith isn’t growing to the point that you can do all things through Jesus Christ, then it’s most likely not Him.  If your faith is based upon the level of faith your pastor, your Christian friends, your parents or siblings, or anyone else has, you may not finish as highly as you want in this race.  Who do you look to for advice when you are down?  Who do you look to for encouragement?

Christ was able to take on the physical and emotional pain of being a Christian.  He stood strong through the mocking, the false judgements, and the abuse.  How are you holding up?  Are you still standing strong?  Do you find yourself wanting to quit, wanting to skip Bible study and Christian fellowships, and going through seasons of disappointments with church and Christian friends?  Or are you able to say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34)”?    

Friend, perhaps the issue is the battle between your ears.  If you look around and see others failing, it’s easy to feel inadequate and unable to continue walking with Christ.  But they are not to be your teacher – they are students as well.  Change your mentor.  Consider the way Christ ran the race with moments alone with God in prayer.  Consider His thankful heart. Learn from His complete submission to the plan God had for Him. 

As the old saying goes, you can’t soar with the eagles if you hang around with the turkeys.  Stop reflecting on the success or failure of others and feeling as if you cannot win this race.  Look to the finisher of your faith, the One who will turn your invisible faith into the visible results.  He found joy and overcame the obstacles set before Him, and you can too.  Friend, the Word would not say it if it were not true.  You CAN do ALL THINGS through CHRIST, who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

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