The Key to True Grit (The Race Set before You)

Some time ago I was chatting with someone in leadership at my church, and they mentioned that anytime I needed prayer, I could go to church and someone on staff would always be available to pray. The last month and a half I have been taking advantage of that opportunity often, stopping by 2-3 times a week after work to pray with someone. Yesterday two staff members were praying over me, and towards the end of our session I was asked if the Lord had brought anything to light or put any kind of word on my heart. Usually this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me, but yesterday I felt the Lord very clearly give me a word - patience. God is doing something important in the midst of these “fiery trials,” and he’s asking me to look to him for strength and hope as I patiently endure and persevere.

So late yesterday afternoon when I stumbled across a devotional by pastor R. Kent Hughes titled “The Key to True Grit,” I thought, “This must be a message from God!” Hughes starts with these words:

Persevering grit is eternally beautiful when devoted to the real-life spiritual race that is marked out for us. The sense of biblical “perseverance” is patient fortitude, patiently “gutting it out.”

We each have a specific race mapped out for us; the course for each runner is unique. Its uniqueness is determined by God, who charts it while factoring in who you and I are right now as to our giftedness, background, responsibilities, age, health—and most of all who we are in Christ. Your race is like no one else’s. It is marked out for you where you are as a student, a single, or a parent.

Now as I heard Joni Eareckson Tada say recently, life is not fair. The paths God chooses for each of us are not all the same - some people seem to have relatively “easy” lives, while others seem to experience sorrow piled upon sorrow. Hughes reminds us that in Christ we can all find the strength for whatever path God has chosen. He writes:

All races are long, but some are longer. But the glory is, each of us (no exceptions!) can finish the race “set before us.” I may not be able to run your course, and you may find mine impossible, but I can finish my race and you yours. Both of us can finish well if we choose and if we rely on him who is our strength and our guide. We can experience the same exhilaration the apostle Paul did as he neared the finish line: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7)

There are many distractions in this fallen world that would seek to pull our gaze from the one person who can actually help us finish this journey. That’s why Hebrews 12 reminds us to “fix our eyes upon Jesus” as we run the race with perseverance, looking to his example as we receive the strength only he can give. I loved what Hughes wrote about this:

Since we need faith to run the race, we must be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” That is, as the Greek literally indicates, we must deliberately lift our eyes from other distracting things and focus with utter concentration on him—and continue doing so.1 We must not look away even for an instant. Such focus is indispensable to a life of faith and to finishing the race.

We all have a race to run - let’s look to Jesus as we persevere to the finish!