Perseverance is special. It ensures progress even when you are against progress, which humans often are. It’s great to feel motivated, but that feeling goes away. Perseverance says: despite how I feel, I’m going to keep moving.
It’s a simple idea. On the way to a destination, moving at all is a good thing. It’s better to run, trip up and fall flat on your face then to not run at all, because you’re closer than you were before. There may be something to this that helps clarify the Apostle Paul’s message to run your race as if you were to win, for me. In the past I’ve misunderstood that to mean don’t run unless you run perfectly (or at least exceptionally). What I’m learning however, is that it’s more like don’t stop.
I can wait my whole life to run perfectly. I’ll never get anywhere.
God calls us to a lifetime of following Him. We will fail so many times. But it’s better to keep drawing near and fail an embarrassing amount than to stop because we’re not ready. That is the real failure – doing nothing.
The practical application that spurred this whole thought chain: I have to be able to run a half marathon in three weeks. I procrastinated. I’m starting from scratch. To many I’m sure it’s not that hard - but for me, especially after struggling the first couple of days - this is a little crazy. I set a course on runningmap.com for six miles and then pooped out after one. I wanted to go home but I forced myself to continue, walking into oblivion. I walked some, ran some, caught second and third winds, got tired and walked some more. I was embarrassed at myself. But hey - I finished those six miles. That’s way better than walking back to my car.
This little goal is crazy for me, but the truth is, all progress is crazy.
Believing that through repetitive failure we are somehow going to improve at something is crazy. Who has that kind of time? When am I ever going to get it right? It seems this way in running and even more so in faith.
But then again, persevering does make you better, and it’s especially effective through failure. It’s not really disputed outside of your own head (when you don’t want to run anymore), because your body automatically improves when you continually work to improve it. That’s the way it works.
You can count on the process of physical improvement. You can do the same in the Spirit. You won’t run aimlessly if you’re eyes are on the prize. God is infinitely worth chasing, and He helps.
It’s not run perfectly. Jesus did that.
It’s don’t stop following Him.