I always fantasized about the day I’d reach the finish line-you know, that amazing pinnacle of spiritual maturity where God and I were tight, nothing phased me and I constantly walked in miraculous power. I no longer faltered in my faith.


Oh, I’ve read all the bios-biblical and otherwise. I marveled at George Mueller’s milk prayer for his orphans and Hudson Taylor’s missionary miracles. I wept at Watchman Nee’s wisdom and thrilled at the fiery preaching of Charles Spurgeon. I am still in awe at world-changers like Bill Bright, or Billy Graham.


But do you know what I learned after years of serving God? When you study someone’s story, you read the highlights-the miraculous and the momentous. But there were days when George Mueller just ate his Cheerios with his kids, Sunday nights when Charles Spurgeon was so depressed his deacons had to pull him out of the pulpit and drag him home.


Elijah called fire down from heaven. But he ate a lot of road kill in the drought and Jezebel bullied him until he curled up into the fetal position.


I’m thinking the key to the spiritual walk is not the sprint, but the marathon. Sprinters like Eric Liddell and Robert Murray McCheyne shone brightly during their short lives, but gutsy, crusty old Paul just makes me smile.


Faith is hard. It’s living like a boxer in the ring or a tackle on a football team. We love the underdog stories where the guy gets beaten down time after time, overcomes insurmountable obstacles and just keeps getting up.


That’s something I love about my two heroes-my father and my husband. Both of them were supposed to die long ago, but they just kept coming back, kept loving, kept giving to others and kept serving God.


Roger told our kids one day that being a grown up was about doing a bunch of stuff that you really didn’t want to do, but you did it anyway because it had to be done.


Come crisis, criticism, death threats, public slander, risk of financial ruin, tough calls and mishaps of all kinds, they both said to me, “Julie, at the end of the day, I just want to be able to say, “Lord, I’ve done my duty. I finished what you asked me to do whatever the cost.” 


A spiritual mother or father, like Jesus the Shepherd, will daily lay down their lives for the sheep-plump and puffy or smelly and scrawny. So, every day you get on your knees and grab onto God. Be prepared for Satan to sideswipe you and be glad when you can cruise down the road.


Faith is hard. It’s not for wimps. You’ll skin your knees or trip along the course.


But be like crusty old Paul. He was a tough old bird. Climbing mountains, shipwrecked, beaten and worse. His best work was done when the apostle was chained with a quill in his hand. His letters faced the shape of Christianity.


He said:

  1. Faith is a race. Finish it.
  2. Perseverance produces character.
  3. At the pinnacle of my walk with God, I realize that I am the chief of sinners.
  4. And above all stay standing, armed to the teeth with God’s armor.


Get on your knees, grit your teeth and grab onto God.


Remember the finish line is not the end of the race. Eternity begins. And THAT’S the starting line.  

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