Final Lessons from a Distance Runner!

Reading time: two minutes.

Karl Meltzer, the record holder for the fastest trip down the Appalachian Trail ever, has three more thoughts to share about endurance on a long hard journey.  I’ve really enjoyed reflecting on them.  There’s a nugget of truth for those in ministry to ponder in just about every one of them.

Drink coffee?  I’m not a big caffeine guy, but the last three are pretty good.

Let’s start with Embrace struggle.  Jesus said it this way,“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, ESV).

We are in a struggle.  The kingdom of God advances by the power of the Holy Spirit and the gates of hell won’t prevail, but it is a struggle.  It’s warfare.  And we’re in the front lines.

But we’re not alone.  What we’re doing has far more significance than just hiking down a long trail.  We’re in a battle for the eternal salvation of the people of this failing, disintegrating world.

So we embrace the struggle.  We put on the whole armor of God and we stand firm.  No Nike’s for us.  We strap on the Good News of Jesus and head on down the trail again.

Well done, good and faithful servant!

I like this one.  Enjoy it!  Karl the runner said, “Each day seemed long, but the whole thing felt short.”  We all experience those times of wanting to throw in the towel.  Some days are just tough.

But the fruit of the Spirit is joy.  Joy is the good feeling deep in the soul that comes when we recognize the handiwork of the Lord all around us.  There’s joy to be found in every confirmation class, every hospital visit, every budget meeting, every runny nosed third grader.

Breathe deep.  Offer a quick, “Lord, have mercy!”  Stop and see that the Lord is good and that He is working through you to change eternity.  Enjoy.

Last, the hiker says, “Inspire yourself.”  Huh?  Fortunately, I’m already inspired by another, the Spirit of Life, the Breath of God, that lives in me.  What a joy to turn to the Holy Scriptures each day and be inspired by the One who breathes truth and life in His word.

As we head into a busy celebration of our Lord’s Incarnation, I hope you are holding up well.  It’s a long, hard journey, but not a solo one.  You are in my prayers.

Thanks again for taking time to read.

Let’s review one last time the tips from an endurance runner: Pace yourself; Beat and broken down?  Focus on what you can control; Practice gratitude; Choose to be positive; Drink coffee; Focus on the process; Ask for help; Sleep; Channel pressure; Show up; Embrace struggle; Enjoy it; Inspire yourself.

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