The NASCAR season is brutally long—stretching from February at Daytona to November at Homestead. It is a 36-race marathon that feels longer and longer as you get buried deeper and deeper in the points. For the teams lining up for the chase to the Cup (the last 10 races of the season), there is the need to dig down deep and find new energy to see you and your team through to the end. For many of those outside that vaunted competition, it is just a matter of marking time until you can go fishing.
But that is where the danger lies. For someone who loves what they do and wants to be the best they can at it, each race must be seen as an opportunity to improve. Each weekend provides another chance to show you belong. Each event is an opportunity to show the character of perseverance. In some ways, perseverance (or the lack of it) is what separates the champions from the also-rans. The champion refuses to let up and refuses to back down. They are in it all the way to the end, no matter how long or frustrating the campaign may have been.
As followers of Christ, we too are called to lives that model perseverance. Ours may not be exhibited in the dog days of summer or in the final races of an already-lost season. Ours may be in the dark, discouraging times of life when we want to give up. When we feel like there is no point in going on. When there is no earthly reason to continue. In those season, perseverance is a virtue we would do well to learn. As Paul told the churches of Galatia:
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Gal.6:9)
If we grow weary and give up, we can never hope to experience the joy of seeing God work through our lives. Perseverance puts us in position to finish well, and to endure the long, hard seasons of life. The challenge is that we not lose heart—and the only way to keep from losing heart is to keep our eyes on Him. The writer of Hebrews said:
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 12:1-2)
As Christ endured for us, we must look to Him—not merely for inspiration, but for the example and strength to endure all the way to the end. He did that for us. He can help us to do so as well. Join us tomorrow on Sports Spectrum radio as we discuss enduring the long seasons of life.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain