Living the Life Set Before Us

“let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”  Hebrews 12:1 ASV

When I was in grade school and high school, I ran cross-country and track. As I prepared for each competition, I remember keeping this verse in mind. As a distance runner, I understood that running the race wasn’t about sprinting.  It was about finding a steady pace and keeping it, pushing through–through the fatigue, the aching legs, the pounding chest, the side aches.  I found a rhythm. I focused my eyes on a set distance in front of me. I pressed forward. Then, when I got a few hundred yards from the finish line, with determination, I would pick up my pace and push through to the finish. The reward sometimes was winning. But, more often, it was the joy of finishing and knowing I had persevered.

The translation of this verse I read before each race used the word “perseverance” — not patience. Those two words carry different meanings for me.  I see perseverance as pushing through or continuing on through a difficult task or period of time.  I see patience as the mindset of waiting for something or someone without being restless, of having a sort of peaceful expectation of things to come.

I see the covenant of marriage as one of great joy, but also one that includes seasons of patience and seasons of perseverance. As a young woman, I believed marriage meant unending bliss.  Life with a man who loved me deeply.  And, “happily ever after.”  Certainly, it has been life with a man who loves me deeply. Certainly we have bliss, but “unending bliss” is not the way I would characterize marriage–at least after 23 years!  And, the happily ever after–well, we haven’t gotten to the “ever after” chapter yet.

Instead of running a long distance race alone, marriage is more like running a three-legged race. Arms entwined, each of us with one leg in the burlap bag and one leg free, trying to keep pace as we run or walk down the field toward the finish line.  Sometimes–or often–falling and needing to figure out how to get up and run again–all the time remaining patient, bound together and hopefully, not getting too muddy.

In falling down and figuring how to get back up while bound together, we need patience.  In getting to the finish line, after multiple falls, we need perseverance as we fatigue. It would be easier to just throw off the burlap bag, untangle our arms and legs, get up and sprint down the field alone.  But, what joy comes from that?

Despite the muddy field before us, we find joy and bliss. We find those in the midst of figuring out how to get back up and head down the field together. We find those in keeping pace and holding tightly to one another.  And, even though my husband and I don’t share our faith, I find joy and bliss in our marriage in looking to Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith”–and of our marriage.

So, we sacrifice the sprint to the finish and “run the race that is set before us,” together. I like that story–that journey toward “happily ever after”–better.

Godspeed, Elizabeth


Posted on April 7, 2010, in Christianity, Faith, family, God, Joy, love, marriage and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. The three-legged race is a GREAT analogy. Sometimes you catch the rhythm and it works great; other times it’s awkward and difficult. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathleen – Glad you liked the analogy, I do too. It helps me not take things so personally and remember we are just trying to figure things out. Godspeed, Elizabeth
      PS I visited your blog. Looking forward to going back again and again.

  2. This reminded me of a song by Bruce Springsteen called “If I Should Fall Behind.” My favorite verse is:
    Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
    But you and I know what this world can do
    So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
    And I’ll wait for you
    If I should fall behind
    Wait for me

  3. Linda – Oh! I like that. Never been a big Springsteen fan, but I like that verse. Thanks, Elizabeth

  4. Elizabeth,

    I love your post today. Because even though its talking about marriage, I am applying it for a different area of my life; the call to write. Only this morning was I wondering and even questioning my reason to continue writing or even believing that I can make a great impact through my blog. That was before God spoke into my heart.

    I like what you said about seasons of patience and perseverance and showing us the difference. At the moment…I am almost at the finishing line but…it seems so hard yet I know how far I have come. Your post was just a confirmation. I need to pick up PACE and PUSH on to the finish line.

    Thank you for the wonderful encouragement! Blessings your way,


  5. Gladwell,
    You are right, so many parts of our lives require patience and perseverance. I’m glad you found this post encouraging. Press on! — Godspeed, Elizabeth

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