I've been trying to change for the better, physically, lately. Running a lot. My friend and I signed up for a half marathon in October and I'm hoping it will go better than my last one (no drinking a large coffee and eating a chocolate chip cookie right before the race starts).
With running, improving is an objective and measurable goal. On our early 0545am runs, my friend and I often discuss why running is a good and worthwhile discipline. "I heard John Piper runs", "I feel so much better after" etc. The great thing is we can see when we are getting faster and running farther.
Why is it that the most worthwhile objectives are the most difficult to attain?
Running is a constant reminder to me of our spiritual journey. It is opposite of our nature to act and think like Christ, yet it is our goal as Christians to strain towards Christ-likeness. Like looking at an Olympian in peak fitness and then looking down at your own meager fitness level. When we see His perfection in comparison to our current state we yearn to be rid of all our sin and filth. God awakens in us that small part of us that knows we aren't as we should be. That there's something better. That if we remain the same we will waste our lives.
I'm reminded of Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit". Gandalf proposes a grand adventure to this comfortable Hobbit. He is the last person in Middle Earth who would want to go fight off a dragon and reclaim dwarf treasure! It is the exact opposite of his nature. Yet Bilbo does go. Gandalf awoke that tiny adventurous part of him that knows there is something much bigger than his simple life. The hardest part was getting him out of that Hobbit hole! (Much like getting me out of my bed at 0530 am to run!)
I just want to encourage my fellow believers to persevere. Do not be discouraged if your old nature kicks in and you feel so far from being like Christ. His grace is sufficient. There's a part in the movie "Chariots of Fire" where Eric Liddel falls during an important race but then you seem him look up, get back on his feet and take off. He won that race somehow. Gives me goosebumps every time I see that part.
Christians are not to be stagnant; we were made for a higher purpose. Christ calls us out of our hobbit holes to do hard but amazing things for His kingdom.
Philippians 3: 13-14
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.