Monday School is inspired by my Saturday morning run and Paul, formerly known as Saul, and the anonymous writer of Hebrews.
Saturday morning is one of my favorite times of the week. I ran earlier than usual and saw several friendly faces on the trails last Saturday. I saw some not-so-friendly faces too. It’s easy to see who is happy to be there and who is not. I passed several couples, and usually, one was cheerful while the other was merely tolerating the morning activity. One couple drove around the park in a golf cart and it was the same way. She smiled as they made the turn around the big tree, but he seemed irritated at the whole thing. One woman walked the trails humming a tune. Later, I smiled at a young man who frowned with the same intensity as he ran.
The people with the scowls on their faces were probably really nice, but maybe they’re not morning people and they’d rather be in bed early on a Saturday morning. Or maybe their significant other asked them to come along. Or maybe the doctor told them they need to move their bodies before it’s too late. Whatever the reason they were out there, this is for them.
And it’s for you and me and anyone out there doing hard things when we don’t feel like doing anything. Or doing the right and good and hard things when we could be doing easy things.
Way to go! Because it means something when we do what we know we should do, when we’re not feeling it. It’s important and it matters.
To do the work, when we’d rather play.
To study for the test to learn, instead of barely passing.
To workout, when we’d rather sleep in.
To say something for someone’s good, when it would go better for us if we were silent.
To forgive, when we’d rather not.
And to love, when it would be easier to turn our backs and walk away.
Paul said a lot about doing hard things. He made many references to athletes, their training, and the races. In his first letter to the Corinthian believers he wrote, “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.” 9:25-26
He wrote “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
When Paul spoke to the elders at Ephesus he said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
Then near the end of his life, Paul wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Look at the words Paul used: discipline, training, press on, aim, complete the task, fought, fight. Those are the words of a man that didn’t always feel like doing what he was doing. But he did it and he did it well. He knew his purpose, he fixed his eyes on the prize, and he did what he knew to do.
Fellow journeyer, it’s okay if we don’t feel it all the time. It’s good and right to do what we know to do even when we don’t want to do it. We press on, we aim and we fight.
Then God gives us the moments when we do feel it. We feel the compassion and grace, the tenderness and thankfulness, and the extravagant love. We feel it down deep in our souls and it brings a smile, unexpected tears, or an unreserved joy.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us:
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1b-2a
Jesus started it and he’ll finish it…..now let us press on and fight the good fight.