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And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

I sure can get tired. Tired of the to-do list. Tired of what I need to do to take care of myself. Tired of the expectations of others. Tired of the expectations I place on myself. Tired of responsibility. Tired of not being trusted with enough responsibility. Tired of kids. Tired of not being present enough with the kids.

The list of things that tire me could go on a very long time. I suspect I'm not alone.

And the current pandemic only serves to heighten all that we face and feel. It only increases the impact it has on us. (Let me suggest, if you have not done so already, that you listen to Glenn's message from Sunday about resilience. The points he makes and the three questions he encourages us to ask are incredibly helpful!)

The effect life has on us is not a new phenomenon. It isn't new to the pandemic. It isn't new to the digital world. It isn't new to the modern world. It has been something people have struggled with since the beginning of time. The writer of Hebrews was so aware of the temptation of life to become exhausting and overwhelming that he borrowed the analogy of a race - a marathon - to speak about what we would face. Over the next number of weeks, I'm going to dig into that analogy to encourage us as we run through this part of our race.

The first thing to remind us of is simply that we are in a long race that will require, to use the word from Hebrews, perseverance. Perseverance is a sense of "stick-to-itiveness." A recognition that we're in this for the long haul and we're not going to give up.

Our world wants, and sells, quick and easy fixes.

Get beach body ready in only 14 days!

How to make one million dollars in one year!

Four steps to happiness!

The church can get caught up in this and try to sell Jesus the same way. Come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved!!! But that isn't really the message of the Bible. The message of Jesus acknowledges that we're in a long and difficult race and invites us to follow Jesus to find joy on the journey and the way, the path, that is best for ourselves and for our world.

It's not a shortcut.

It's not a quick fix.

It is a way of running the race that is worth it when we embrace it for the long haul.

When I first showed up to the one half-marathon that I ran I saw something that was very strange to me as someone at my first run. There were a handful of people in the starting line crowd who were wearing bunny ears and each was holding a sign with a time on it (e.g. 2 hrs, 2:30 hours). I was very confused until someone told me that they were "pace bunnies". They were experienced marathoners, men and women, who would run the race in a very specific time. If you wanted to run your marathon in a certain time, the best way to do it is to keep your eyes on the appropriate pace bunny and follow them.

In some ways, the author of Hebrews sets up Jesus as our life "pace bunny". The best way to keep running and running well is to keep our eyes on the one who says, "Follow me!" There is certainly a lot more to running well than just looking at Jesus and running, and we'll get to some of that in coming weeks, but a good starting place is to acknowledge that we're in this for the long haul so lets keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and prepare to keep running!