We are all at the starting line of 2009, ready to begin a New Year. How will we pace ourselves for what we will encounter?
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
One winter, when I was in High School, I became a member of the Cross Country team. It was much harder than I anticipated. I usually practiced long distance races on the level playing fields at the school and easily outran my peers. For some reason, I could last longer running around the track about fifteen or twenty times.
My coach had taught me how to pace myself by breathing well and maintaining a regular rhythmic pace around the track. So long as I worked on those two things, I kept winning the long distance races at our school.
But cross country running was entirely different. I had high expectations for myself and when I joined other runners from Glasgow in a country park for a three mile race, I thought I would easily finish in the top ten. As soon as the starter fired the gun, I set off at my usual pace and then I encountered something that upset my breathing and rhythm: hills and valleys all across the park.
I was so used to running on a level track that it never crossed my mind to prepare for a different kind of track. Going down hill, my legs went faster than expected and broke my rhythm. I struggled to pound up the hills and it affected my breathing. About halfway around the course, I was totally winded and had to stop. Some of my school team mates, whom I had consistently beaten on the level track, galloped past me. By the time the race was over, I had come in 125th! So much for my own high expectations.
We all stand at the starting line of a New Year, anxiously waiting to see how it will turn out. We all have high expectations and make many resolutions to ensure that we will accomplish our goals and fulfill our ambitions. We expect a level track, but there will be hills and valleys, crests and troughs, highs and lows along the way. That’s when our perseverance, faith, and hope in the Lord will be crucial to our successes and failures.
This year, let’s take and make time to put Christ at the center of our lives and to give God the glory for all that we achieve. Let’s not take our blessings for granted; rather let us accept them humbly and apply them meaningfully in ways that will both honor and please the Lord.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we know that You are our Savior and Teacher; we ask that You become our Leader and Guide throughout 2009. No matter what we face or encounter, keep us safe in Your hands, and enable us to accomplish much in our homes, at our work, and through our churches, to the glory of God. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.