Each day most every one of us is preparing for something. It could be as simple as getting ready for the next day or as great as preparing to run a marathon or preparing to defend your dissertation. It could be as exciting as the vacation you have dreamed of or as difficult as the medical treatments you cannot put off or ignore.
Some days are relatively relaxed and easy while others are challenging beyond what we believe we can endure. Little wonder that New Testament writers like Paul and the writer of Hebrews admonishes us to run the race before us well and makes it evident that to do so will require training.
“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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)
The challenge we face is less about the goal and more about what we need to do to reach the goal. It faces every student in any course of study. From the time we enter school we are faced with curriculums set for us by those who know what we will need to learn to be prepared for the next season or next level of training irrespective of our preferences. We might enjoy music or reading and excel at them or even the study we need to do for them but that doesn’t get us out of the math, science, history, or other subjects those wiser than we know we will need.
We might enjoy running and not hesitate to lace up our sneakers and head off to run along a favorite path but training for a 10 miler or marathon will require a lot more of us than a love of running. We will be looking at other physical conditioning and nutritional needs as well as not just running our favorite path at our favorite time of the day. That puts a whole new spin on running for many of us and the “fun” of it gets a little tough many of those days we are up early running in all kinds of weather for much longer distances than we tended to do when it was just for “fun.”
A shift in how we assess our daily choices and what makes life good for us seems to have crept in over time. My parents’ generation looked at “work” as a normal part of daily life whether on a job outside of the home or around or in the house, barn, garden, etc. They called times “fun” when games were played in church fellowship gatherings or grange groups. My generation was often the first to have college in our future and they worked hard to provide it.
Present day culture isn’t necessarily averse to work or even hard work, but they are looking to have “fun” be a regular part of more days than not and that plays heavily into lifestyles for them. When socioeconomic times are good, that is easier for many than when economic times are difficult.
No matter what season we are in, we are each going through training for the next season whether we realize it at the time. And reading something recently reminded me that the race set before each of us is one that has us on a curriculum designed by God to help us reach the goal and finish the race well if we yield to the training. Not unlike other things, some of the curriculum will not be made up of things we like or enjoy.
“Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. His wisdom is perfect, His knowledge embraces not only all worlds but the individual hearts and minds of each of His loved children. With intimate understanding of our deepest needs and individual capacities, He chooses our curriculum. We only ask, ‘Give us this day our daily bread, our daily lessons, our homework.’ An angry retort from someone may be just the occasion we need in which to learn not only long-suffering and forgiveness, but meekness and gentleness; fruits born in us but only by the Spirit.
God’s curriculum for all who sincerely want to know Him and do His will will always include lessons we wish we could skip.”Elisabeth Elliott
How true are Elisabeth Elliott’s words despite the hard truth they highlight for us. It means we trust the One who knows and holds our future to bring us safely home to Him if we follow the path and the curriculum He gives us and remember He is always faithful and trustworthy.