By: Richard Gazowsky
The next Monday Morning Blog: “The High Mountains In God’s Race Of Endurance” To subscribe, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Le Tour De France is a metaphor of the race that God has called all Christians to join. The Apostle Paul referred to it as achieving the mark, the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Five times the Apostle Paul refers to the Christian walk as being similar to a race. As a matter of fact, the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, which is the great “faith chapter”, talks about Abraham going on a journey without even knowing where he was going. The foundation for this metaphor was laid by Solomon in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes as he wrote, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor satisfaction to the wise, nor riches to the smart, nor grace to the learned…” Later the Apostle Paul clarifies this metaphor by saying, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” What Paul makes clear in the five metaphors that he uses in the scriptures is that the race of faith that all of us have been called to be a part of is a race of endurance. As a matter of fact, Paul calls the winners, “Those who endure to the end.” Wow! What an example we find in the Tour De France, a bicycle race of endurance throughout the beautiful European countryside and mountains. This race is going on as I write this blog.
When God gives you a word to obey, your race of endurance begins. Usually the first word that He gives you is very simple, small, and easy to obey. The trouble is that most Christians don’t realize that this living word from God was given to them to test their faithfulness in little things to see if they would qualify to be rulers over much. Usually you recognize the importance of the word if it is important to you, but you must understand that God’s ways are not your ways! Many times He asks you to do things that may not appear to be important to you, but their significance can determine major decisions or even directions for your life. When I was 19, who were many young men that were starting the race of life at the same time as me. Their parents were well-known missionaries, and my mother was a well-known minister. There were decisions that I made that determined the direction of my life, but I did not realize how important they were at the time. They would eventually determine my position in the race of life. One of these decisions was whom I was going to marry. At the time I liked a girl whose father was also a minister, and I thought that this may be a wise choice because it would help me to be successful in the race of life. (Remember: this race is not about getting somewhere quickly, but about enduring to the end!) One day I saw this very girl kissing another man although I had just received a letter from her that day expressing how much she liked me. It was extremely devastating to me, but I realized this is what I am going to face on the road to success; I would have to deal with people who don’t meet all of my expectations. I talked to the Lord and He assured me that this was not true, that God does not have us make decisions that bring sorrow to our lives. He wants to make my entire journey of life exciting, adventurous and 100% enjoyable. This was a great shock to me because I thought endurance in the race had to do with torture. Boy, was I wrong! I soon went through some other bad choices in dating and finally figured out that I was incapable of choosing the proper wife who was to join me in the race of life. The Lord told me to turn the decision over to my mother, who was my pastor, and she chose the young lady, Sandy, who has been my wife for 38 years. The amazing thing to me is how wise this decision was because not only has Sandy brought me joy every day of my life through her vibrant personality and giggling over everything, but she also helped me endure through a stay in the hospital, and other events that could have caused any woman to lose control and easily become a factory of complaints. These decisions that are made in life have an incredible effect upon your ability to run the race successfully and also endure to the end.
In the Tour De France they race for twenty days and someone may be an incredible speedster at the beginning, but things begin to change after ten days of continuous racing. It seems like the older, more mature racers are the ones who know what it takes to endure to the end. So it is in the race of life. I have noticed that many of those who sped off ahead of me in the race suddenly run into points that might even mean disqualification. One of the things that has been very important in my life has been the realization that you never get success by chasing it, but the blessings always overtake you. Many times it is important to ease into the competition, and this way you prepare yourself for the great mountains that you are going to face in times of testing. On day 10 of the Tour de France they began to face the Swiss Alps. They have to ride uphill for twelve miles (sometimes as steep as 14%), and this really sets the competition apart. No longer are they running in large groups but the people with the strength and endurance to make it through the Swiss Alps begin pulling ahead consistently and so it is in the race of life. Our nation has been facing struggling economic times and this has caused many Christian leaders to face their economic difficulties straight in the head, and their honesty and integrity have been brought into extreme questioning. This kind of difficulty separates the men from the boys and determines where personal integrity begins and ends. It is this kind of testing that builds endurance. The question always is; did you stay in the race? Many times I have seen people that have had similar calls as I have had in my life leave the race because an easier pathway was afforded them, but this is not a time to look for a shortcut because it is not man that is the judge of the race, but it is God and God placed you in the city you are in and in the family you are in. All of these decisions were made for you to run the most successful race possible. Can I tell you that I have seen so many people leave the race because they found what they thought was a shortcut, but what they had done was run into disqualification? The good thing about this is that God loves you so much that He is willing to recalculate immediately your race to the finish line (the word of God that is over your life) so that you can still be a successful endurance racer. More on this subject later.
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Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called The Voice of Pentecost, and is also president of Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”