Don’t we all prefer taking shortcuts? We use Maps to tell us which route is faster. We search blogs and articles for life hacks, and look for any tips we can find to get through our crazy day with more ease.
I see this the most in the world of fitness. No one wants to work harder than they need to. We want to be faster, stronger, better but we want the quickest way to get there.
As I was reading this morning’s daily reading in Hebrews, I explored different versions and really connected with the Message version today. It’s life hacks at its best; how to run the race of life better, stronger, easier. Here are some of my favorite lines.
“Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.”
#1 – Get rid of anything holding us back.
How often do we try to do life our way. We refuse to let go of things, bad habits, emotions, unforgiveness, relationships and heavy burdens. No wonder we run so slow. Who can run fast carrying all that luggage?
“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—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.”
#2 – Stay focused on the goal.
It is SO easy to get sidetracked and distracted by the flashy shiny things in life. Whether it’s “stuff”, people, laziness, self-pity or comfort, we MUST keep our eye on the goal. And, we must “practice” and imitate our coach. We will fail, but we can always get better as long as we are following the right leader.
“don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.”
#3 – Embrace discipline.
Loving parents correct their kids – for their own good, to protect them and help them grow up.
I remember some of my friends in high school who seemed to get away with murder. They threw parties and lived a lifestyle I knew my parents would never tolerate. I remember also feeling sorry for them because I could see their parent’s selfishness in the lack of discipline. They didn’t care what their kid was doing because they were too busy dating and playing themselves. I also remember recognizing the fact I had loving parents who loved me enough to discipline me. The same goes with our heavenly Father. He loves us enough to take us just like we are but too much to let us stay there.
This text also references “training” and I can’t help but think of how a coach trains his athletes. A coaches hardest training is reserved for the kids who have the most potential. God knows our potential, so we need to let him work us so we can develop into the man or woman He desires us to be.
“At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”
#4 – We have to keep our focus on the reward, not the work.
Discipline is HARD but moving forward without maturing in the Lord is HARDER. Our current pain and suffering can cause us to get tired and discouraged. But, just like the old saying “no pain, no gain”, we must remember it’s a requirement for growth. We can’t reap the harvest without plowing the fields. We can refuse to do the work, but we are also refusing to get the reward.
“So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!”
#5 – Don’t drag your feet.
We often use busyness as an accepted form of procrastination (mainly me lol – I’m preachin’ to myself). But our constant busyness and even the most legitimate excuses really are just other ways to “sit around on our hands”. I look busy. I AM busy, but am I busy doing what God called me to do or what I want to do. Or worse, what others want me to do? I need to remember I can choose my busy. There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.
Lastly, I LOVE that it says “clear the path” for others. We aren’t supposed to run this race alone. We are to help each other go the distance! We should help our friends run with more ease too. We should point out the pot holes, uneven pavement and loose shoestrings in life.
Never run your race alone.