“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
- 2 Timothy 4: 7-8
We are already two weeks into 2020 - a new year and a new decade! This year is special in my heart because it was exactly 30 years ago that I started a new chapter in my life, finishing high school and moving away to college in Stockton, California. I had no idea what lay in store for me there, but God’s plans turned out to be infinitely better than any of my own. During that first year at university, I met my wonderful husband, and both of our hearts and lives were gloriously revolutionized by Jesus. I am so grateful for all He has brought us through and for how amazing our experience has been so far.
As this new era begins, I am mindful of how quickly this life passes. Honestly, I cannot remember taking much time to process the turning of the new year and new decade in either 1999 or 2009 - in the former I had a three-year-old and an infant, and in the latter the girls were thirteen and ten. Eli and I were serving as campus pastors, and living the rich, busy life that comes with that season. Now we are in a different place - no less rich or even busy, but quite different nontheless. Now I can look back and see a full thirty years behind in my adulthood, and that makes me pause and take a personal inventory of my life. Have I made it count? Am I on a good trajectory of physical, mental, and spiritual health and of usefulness for the Kingdom of God?
I am delighted to say that the readers of this blog range in age from teenager to ninety years old. That means that some of you can see as many or even more years behind you than I can, and others of you are just beginning your race. I know from years in the ministry that it is quite normal for young people to be full of faith and zeal and hope. Interestingly, the same is true for many Christians as they near the end of their race. It is during the long decades in the middle that it is difficult to keep our eyes on the goal of Heaven forever with Jesus, and with as many people as we can bring with us. It is hard in this sleep-inducing, broken world to keep our attention fixed on the big picture and reality of God’s Kingdom.
One of the greatest lessons I learned in college took place in the swimming pool. I was a swimmer throughout all of my childhood, but have not a single fast-twitch muscle in my body, and so was recruited to swim the dreaded mile. This is the longest and most boring race in all of sports to watch - 1650 yards, which is 66 lengths in a 25-yard pool. It is also a very difficult race to learn to do properly.
My college coach was very wise. He taught us to view the race not as a whole, but as three distinct sections: the first 550, the second 550, and the third 550. When you swim a mile, 550 yards seems like a cakewalk, so we learned to tackle the race one 550 at a time.
Further, he taught us that the entire race is not won at the beginning for the person who starts the fastest, or even at the end depending on whether you can rally yourself to finish strong - the entire race is most often won by the person who is still paying attention and giving great effort in the middle of the middle 550. How easy it is to drift off and think about something - anything - else while you are swimming such a long race! How many times you get to the end and wish you had remembered to keep going strong in the middle. Of course, you can still finish if you forget about the middle, but you cannot get back the ground you lost.
As we enter a new year and a whole new decade, may the Lord help us to be mindful of our race - that we would fight the good fight and keep the faith.
-For those of you just beginning, keep going strong! Those of us just ahead of you are cheering for you and believe in you, and will do all we can to help you. Start your race with good, healthy habits and a strong committment to God and His Kingdom so you can look back years from now with no regrets, confident that you made these years count.
-For those of you nearing the end of your race here on earth, keep your eyes on our beautiful Savior and finish powerfully. Your life and testimony are so impactful to the ones following behind you, and you have such great wisdom and guidance to impart. Sow hope and life deeply into the younger generations.
-For those of us in the middle of the race, let us strive to give our best effort here. May we not get to 2030, should Jesus tarry, and wish we could do the entire decade over again. May we not fall into the temptation to live for selfish gain, or to remain for even one more day in deeply-engrained unhealthy habits. May this decade be one of life and health and hope, and of great purpose in the Kingdom of God as we long for His appearing.
Are you ready for a fresh start in your walk with the Lord in 2020? Kingdom Minded is a great tool for you and your small group to learn to walk with God in health and wholeness. Click the link to order your copy today!
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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