New Year, New Endurance
Happy happy New Year to you! Whether you are reading this snuggling by the fire with a box of Christmas chocolates nearby, or on the next train back to the city with your new diary on your lap, 2018 has begun, and there is much in store!
Over the past month at More Precious, we have been celebrating the JOY that characterises this season, starting with the promises of advent, and the birth of our King Jesus. Filled with great joy and the light of men, it’s now time to open those new diaries with new focus and fresh vision.
It’s time for January: a time of breathing in truth, soaking in the Simple Gospel and re-setting our hearts and schedules so that we can run from Day 1 into this new year with perseverance, keeping on the running track God has set for us, fixing our eyes on our Joy and Prize.
‘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,’ (Hebrews 12:1)
Day 1. Monday, January 1st, 2018.
What does that entail for you?
Paul starts this chapter in Hebrews with a challenge, and I’m going to follow suit. ‘Do you see what this means?’ (MSG) he asks in v1. There are thousands of onlookers, pioneers of the faith, angels and spiritual parents watching our next step. There is a cloud. Do you see what this means? Day 1, ‘it means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit!’ (MSG).
So, it’s pretty serious then.
Yes, but let me put it this way, using the same analogy in Hebrews. If this life were a marathon, wouldn’t you be listening to your personal trainer? You would put your trust in the expert, knowing he knows best, just like in any other situation. When your body is safely in their hands, you totally submit to their discipline, certain there is greater purpose in all those squats. More is achieved working with your trainer’s schedule, following the plan for rest days and leg days, rather than working against it.
Therefore, our Day 1 challenge, is to get marathon-ready.
How? By ‘throwing off everything that hinders’ and the ‘sin which so easily trips us up’ (NLT). In the New York marathon last year, 86000 pounds of clothing was discarded on the running track! (It was wonderfully all donated to charity, but that is me getting distracted.) In a race, the competitors know the things which hinder or distract their focus, and by throwing off that which is unnecessary and unhelpful, they run streamlined, reaching their personal best.
Similarly, as this year begins, we are called to ‘strip down’. Perhaps you have already mentally created a checklist of New Year resolutions, including things like finish The Crown, do Park Run more than once a year, set up a standing order to give at church; all fantastic additions. However, New Year is also the ideal time to streamline, simplify, subtract.
Is there baggage that arrived in 2017 that doesn’t need to travel into 2018? Are there lifestyle habits or characteristics which have hindered your run with God? Thought patterns, apps, or people we follow on social media which detract your marathon focus?
What things could you ‘strip down’ this year?
Let us begin Day 1 with a marathon-mindset, re-setting our eyes on our own track, and on the end of the finish-line. God says: Run with me, watch how I work. Learn my unforced rhythms of grace, so you can run freely and lightly. His burden is light, and his yoke is easy. He has marked out our race, he knows where the path leads and He’s beside us on the track.
Resting in the faithfulness of our Pioneer, Jesus, the perfect starter-finisher, we can reset our focus on the race marked out for us.
‘Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed’ (v1-2, MSG)
Abi has lived in 5 countries, and had the joy of calling them all home. She is a Modern Language student in her final year at Durham University and is so delighted to be overseeing the January Soul Detox series this month at More Precious.