About 7 years ago, I registered for a race I had never run before. In fact it was a type of race I had not run at all. The Bridger Ridge Run covered 20+ miles over rough terrain with a 7,000ft elevation gain. I was well trained (so I thought) and took off climbing 1,800ft in the first two miles. What I found is I went out way to hard and fast; I needed to find a new pace to finish, even if I didn’t know what was ahead.
That is what the first few weeks of dealing with this pandemic felt like.
We hit the ground running: making plans, setting up messages, virtual zoom meetings, calling other leaders and following up on our congregation. One Monday morning, tired, weary and discouraged, I realized I had not even taken a walk with my wife in over two weeks. It was time to find a pace that would get me through the season. That morning, Pastor Roger told the pastoral staff, “we are going to end this zoom call and you are all taking the rest of the day off.” I headed to the hills for some time with God, myself, and my wife. That was the beginning of setting a new pace.
Hebrews 12 tells the story of many who ran with faith. The first three verses set the pace, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
What entangled me in this season? Fear and focus. You probably get fear…but focus? Yes. Both pushed me into taking my eyes off of Christ.
Let me start with fear. I was fearful of what this virus might do. I have an adult child with a compromised immune system. What if I was a carrier, being around so many people, and infected Kris? Did I trust God with Kris? Yes, kinda. I will admit, 14 days after our last youth service something relaxed in me and I realized subconsciously it was day 14. I had been carrying a weight around for those 14 days that I didn’t have to. I realized that Kris is in God’s hands and I can trust Him. I confessed my fear and committed to praying every day for Kris’s protection. It was a weight lifted. What weight are you carrying in this crisis that you need to confess and give to Christ?
Now about focus. When I am faced with a difficult situation I bear down and focus on getting the job done. Often times neglecting and even hurting those around me. Hebrews say to run with perseverance not determination. For me, determination meant to run the race I thought I needed to run at the pace I set. Perseverance by Hebrews standards, says run the race the Lord has marked out for me and at His pace. So how do I (we) do that? Fixing my eyes on Jesus! The author and perfecter of my faith!
When I got to the top of the ridge, after the two miles, I found someone who had run the race before. I asked if I could keep pace with them the rest of the race. Not only did I finish but I enjoyed the company! I fixed my eyes on them because they knew what was ahead. Christ knows how this all ends; He knows where He wants to take us in this season; He knows the pace he wants us to keep AND He will run with us the whole way! Talk about joy!
Have you considered Christ as your pace setter in this season? Let me give you two suggestions.
- Off load your backpack of weight on Him. Prayerfully give Christ all your burdens each day. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your cares upon Jesus because He cares for you.” Make it a daily exercise, maybe many times a day.
- When anxiety and fear first begin do not speed up, slow down, look to Christ and ask what you should do next. How will you know what to do? You will experience Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
My prayer for you is that you will look to Christ to set your new pace in this season of uncertainty.