The face of perseverance
It was a cold wet day. Not the kind of day that anyone would want to get out of the house unless they really had to. I was coming to the end of taking our mid-week communion service. It is amazing that even though the media keeps telling us that the church is facing critical decline (and I know there are struggles) yet here almost 20 people gathered on a miserable day to worship and encourage each other. They are an incredibly faithful, welcoming and loving band of people and I love being able to serve them.
The door at the back of church creaked open and in came a lady, soaked through from the rain. She walked slowly and determinedly up the aisle. Each step considered and purposeful. Her face set on completing the journey. I waved at her and encouraged her forward. Everyone else had sat down having received communion, but still, she came. The two small steps up to the area where we were sitting must have felt like mountains. But some friends came to assist. She drew closer to the communion rail, slowing even more, trying to dry her hands to get ready to receive. We paused, we prayed, she got what she came for. As I gave her the bread I could feel the tears welling up inside me. If only I could be as determined as she had been. I want to live life like that, face full of perseverance.
During our evening church services at All Saints, we have been thinking about persevering, about running the race that God has set before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus. This coming Sunday the streets of Bath will be filled with runners. Some experts after a personal best, some running to work off Christmas. Others running not for themselves but for a good cause, the time doesn't matter, finishing the race does.
The Christian faith is full of things we are supposed to hold in tension. On the one hand, we are to run the race marked out for us with perseverance, we are supposed to be strong and courageous. On the other hand, we are supposed to rest and abide in our loving heavenly Father knowing that this is the path to fruitfulness. The beauty is that although these two things are held in tension, they are not in opposition to one another.
I've run a few marathons in my time. To get around you have to have done the training. Then on the day, it requires a combination of perseverance and relaxation. You have to press in and work hard, sometimes it just hurts. But you also have to relax knowing that you've done the training and enjoy the day, allowing yourself to be taken along in the crowd.
So let's press on and run the race, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, but let's not exhaust ourselves in the process. We are to go slowly, abiding in him. It's not about coming in first but about running the race with him. Some days we will arrive late having walked through the rain but when we get there we can be assured of a gracious welcome from the King of kings who loves us.
Please support those who are running the Bath Half Marathon this year including: