May 10… Thirteen years ago today I married the love of my life. I would happily do it again in a heartbeat. I have made a lot of bad decisions in my life, but thirteen years ago today I made one of the best decisions of my life by saying “I do”. I meant it then. I mean it even more today.
This morning I ran 3.1 miles in 24:26.7. That is an average pace of 7:53 per mile -which is just slightly faster than yesterday. These old legs sure aren’t feeling any fresher as the days rolls by…
This morning’s run was strange. While still in my allotment I nearly got hit by a car backing out of a driveway. I’m pretty sure they did not see me. (I’m glad that I was not hit. I rather appreciate being alive.)
A little further down the road I had to get out of the way because an amish family decided that they owned the sidewalk. (My bad. Didn’t see your name on it.)
A little further yet there was construction. The entire sidewalk and half of the road was blocked off, so I had to go around.
None of this was earth-shattering, but it was strange. There just seemed to be roadblocks standing in the way for the entire run.
I think life feels like that sometimes. You know where you want to go and you have a pretty good idea how to get there… and then the roadblocks start piling up. So what do you do when the going gets tough?
There are at least two biblical examples that quickly come to mind as I consider this conundrum.
The first example is the classic story of David vs. Goliath. Talk about a roadblock! Goliath, a giant of a man, was standing in the way of God’s plan for Israel and all of the Israelite army were shaking in their boots. This roadblock was just too big. Too scary.
Then along comes a shepherd boy named David. He’s not afraid. He literally runs to battle against Goliath.
When the Philistine [Goliath] arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:48, ESV)
So what was the secret to David’s success? What would possess a little shepherd boy to go running into battle against this formidable roadblock? The answer is found in the verses leading up to David’s running quickly toward the battle.
…David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47, ESV)
David knew the LORD, and he knew that Goliath was standing against the plan of the LORD. So he ran quickly towards the battle so that the goodness of God could be more clearly seen.
Sometimes God’s goodness can be most clearly seen by our willingness to run quickly towards the battle, and not away from it.
The second biblical example that comes to mind is that of Jonah. Jonah also knew the LORD, but God asked him to travel to Nineveh (another rather large and dangerous roadblock) to prophesy against them.
Jonah fled… he freaked out and ran in the opposite direction. The story doesn’t end well for him.
Yes. Life gets hard. But sometimes you have to choose between running towards the battle or fleeing from it. I choose running towards it in the confidence of God’s goodness.
For a final example (we’ll call it the Bonus Round), consider Jesus.
Jesus was fully aware that his earthly destination was a cross. He shared this information with some of his closest friends, but they rebuked him. He did not allow their roadblock to deter him. Instead, he set his face towards Jerusalem, where he would ultimately be put to death.
He was betrayed by one of his closest friends and arrested on false charges. To make it worse, he was deserted by the rest of his friends. He went to the cross alone.
He was spat upon, punched in the face, lied about, whipped, and relentlessly mocked. Even the hair of his beard was pulled out. Then he carried his own cross to the place where soldiers would drive nails into his hands and feet and raise the cross, with his bleeding, naked body hanging on it, into the air so he could be humiliated while suffocating to death.
While the soldiers were driving the nails into his hands and feet, Jesus prayed for them.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34a, ESV)
What did Jesus do with a roadblock? He forgave it.
Knowing that he had run the race perfectly, that he had completed his work, Jesus offered up his spirit -and then the unthinkable happened. He was forsaken even by God the Father.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46, ESV)
I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like for God the Son to be separated from God the Father. How did he even know he was separated from his Father? He knew because God the Spirit had departed from him, as well. For the first (and last) time in all of eternity, there was a split in the Trinity.
Now that is what I call a roadblock!
But God the Father vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead in three days, just like he said he would! Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, so that we could be saved from our sins if we accept his work on the cross for our behalf! He died so we could be filled with the same Spirit of God that filled Jesus while he was on earth!
…for the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, ESV)
Yes. Life is hard. And there will be roadblocks along the way, but don’t give up. Run the race like Jesus did. The aforementioned text from Hebrews is even better when you include the verse before it.
…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)