Florence Chadwick, a long distance swimmer, became famous in 1950 when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions, setting a world record. In 1952 she attempted to swim a 21 mile stretch in California called the Catalina Channel. Despite great perseverance, after about 16 hours she asked to be pulled out of the water because a thick fog had set in and she was unable to see the coastline. Florence stopped swimming just one mile from her destination.
Two months later, Florence tried again. This time was different. The same thick fog set in, but she made it because she said she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam.
Sometimes for us the way ahead isn’t clear. We can feel we’re in a fog and become uncertain. Whatever our circumstances Scripture for today gives clear instructions for us to follow if we’re going to continue in the way God’s marked out for us, and finish well.
Firstly, we must get rid of anything that weighs us down. This is commonly known as baggage. It may be anxieties about trivial things, fear that God won’t protect us, or worry that He won’t provide for us. It may be ambitions and plans of our own, resentment towards other people, greed or anger, or a sackful of other things.
Secondly, we must rid ourselves of the sin in our lives that entangles us – besetting sin, things we might be tolerating and calling little things. There’s no small sin in God’s eyes. To do well in our race we need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to hate what God hates and love what He loves.
Thirdly, we’ll have to recognise that we’re not in a sprint, but a long distance race. It’s not so much how you begin, but how you finish that matters. It’s not about early enthusiasm and later lethargy. It’s about perseverance and endurance for the whole length of the course.
Finally, the only way to be sure of the prize is to fix our eyes on Jesus. We’re not promised an easy road – we’re travelling in His footsteps. The way may be difficult. People around us may be discouraging, and we might suffer hostility, but that’s how it was for our Jesus. He ran this course before us. He pioneered the way and brought it to successful completion when He died on the cross.
Our task is to fix our eyes on Jesus. That means to let Him fill our thoughts and imagination day by day, rather than our problems and circumstances. If our eyes are anywhere else, when the going gets tough we’ll grow weary, lose heart and feel like giving up.
Prayer: Father, thank You for calling me to be part of what You’re doing today. Forgive me for the times when I’ve grown weary and discouraged. By Your grace, I want to finish well. So, today I relinquish to You everything that hinders me from being strong and courageous in the race set before me. Thank You for Jesus who’s gone before. I choose to fix my eyes and my thoughts on Him. Amen.
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