Every successful sprinter will tell you that the key to winning is to keep your focus on the finish line. Never look to see where your opponent is and most certainly, never look back!
In his wonderful book, A Resilient Life, Gordon MacDonald writes “…there are some Christ-followers who stand out from all the rest…the further they run, the stronger they get…”
He calls such people “resilient ones” and goes on to name five “spiritual qualities” he has observed in them; qualities that are the reasons behind the strong impression they leave on people.
Let’s look at three of them.
They are committed to finishing strong.
One of the more negative aspects to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis is the fact that people are not as resilient as they once were.
To put it bluntly, many of us have become psychologically flabby when it comes to dealing with what the present circumstances have thrown at us and this also includes our spiritual lives.
But resilient people are committed to both running and finishing the race of life strongly. To do this requires that we develop an intimate relationship with Jesus where we are honest with Him about our failings, look to Him for strength in each situation and depend on His Spirit to shape us into His image.
Being resilient doesn’t mean denying the realities of life – it simply means that in partnership with Jesus your faith grows into the kind that Paul described as being committed to pressing “on toward the goal.” (Phil.3:14)
They run inspired by a big-picture view of life.
Resilient people finish strong because their vision of life is not simply a large one, it is a transcendent one.
Think of the “resilient ones” mentioned in Hebrews 11. They are described as people of incredible faith who endured to the end, in spite of overwhelming odds and persistent hostility directed against them.
Why did they run with such patience and endurance?
Because as the author says, instead of pouring the energy of their lives into their own comfort, they chose to believe God, trust in His promises and keep their focus on the bigger picture: “…the city…whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb.11:10)
Run with the end in mind and you will finish strong!
They run free of the weight of the past.
Constantly looking back is guaranteed to prevent you from finishing strong.
And no one has said it better than Forrest Gump –
“My Momma said, ‘You have to put the past behind you before you can move forward.’”
Paul had this in mind when, having outlined his own past, he wrote, “…forgetting what lies behind…I press on toward the goal…” (Phil. 3:13&14).
Resilient people do not allow their past to drag them down.
As you run the race of life, remember to keep your focus – it’s the only way to ensure you finish strong!
Blessings to you!
Pastor Rob Furlong.