Thursday March 29, 2007

     I read these words, “It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint”, in an article the other day and had another light bulb moment.  Though the article dealt with administering an elimination diet to autistic children, those words just jumped off the page at me.  A marathon, not a sprint.  I don’t know why I’m so thick sometimes!  Raising children.  Homeschooling.  Becoming a better wife.  Making a home.  None of these things can be accomplished in a sprint.  These are long-term pursuits and no amount of panicked activity, frenzied research and study, or forced growth can accomplish what only time, patience and the Holy Spirit can bring about.

     Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

     What sorts of weight do you need to lay aside in your life?  What’s bogging you down?  Are you struggling with a curriculum that just doesn’t fit you or your children?  Are you weighed down with effort in trying to maintain the standards of others?  Many families in my church educate classically.  Classical education is, I’m absolutely sure, a wonderful method of homeschooling.  However, it is not what God has called our family to.  If I tried to educate my children classically, it would be nothing but a weight about our neck.  Rather than furthering my children’s education, it would hinder them.  On the other hand, if those that are called to classically educate were to adopt my homeschooling methods, they would feel the same weight and burden.  I use homeschooling as an illustration, but there are weights that we can allow to hinder us in all aspects of our Christian walk.

     What about the weight of comparison?  Oh, that’s a sore spot for many of us!  We observe a family that we think highly of.  We like what we see, and admire their standards, and then the comparisons to our own family begin.  The temptation to be discontent with our own situations is then very great.  Worse still, we try to emulate the other family by making their standards our own, hoping to achieve their results.  How about an example?  The TooGoodToBeTrue family are raising some terrific kids!  Wow, their sons are so well mannered, and their daughters dress so femininely and modestly.  So we set about frantically teaching our sons to say “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir” and to hold the chair just so as their mother or sisters are seated.  We throw out all of our daughters’ jeans in an hour long closet raid and hit e-bay big time buying long, full skirts.  Don’t get me wrong!!!  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with raising well-mannered sons who say and do these things, and there is NOTHING wrong with daughters who wear only lovely, modest dresses.  However, we make these things weights about our own, and our family’s, neck when we try to bring things about too quickly and for the wrong reasons.  Training our sons to be well-mannered men, and training our daughters to desire to be feminine and modest are marathon pursuits, not sprints.  Trying to accomplish these things in a sprint will leave you with bitter children.  Working towards the same goals in a marathon will allow you the time necessary to reach their hearts and to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in their lives.

     I’m struck by another part of that Hebrews verse.  Not only are we to lay aside every weight which might impede our progress, but also “sin which clings so closely”.  Think about that word picture as applied to the runner.  Runners do not wear any clothing or accessories that cling closely.  Anything that would cling to their legs would not only hinder their progress, but it would most likely cause them to trip, stumble or even fall.  Is there any besetting sin that is causing you to stumble in the race?  As you work to build your home, are you struggling with the sin of covetousness?  Does your desire to have a beautiful home cause you to covet a friend’s home and/or furnishings?  

     Are you working each day to do all things for the glory of God, or are you working to please man? (I’m not talking about your husband here, you are SUPPOSED to work to please him and in so doing you are absolutely pleasing God!)  Your best friend might be pleased that you spent four days working with her at her favorite charity event, but if you neglected your husband, children and home while doing so, then what you did may very well have been to please man (woman in this case) and not God.  Just be sure of whom it is that you seek to please.  You cannot serve God and man simultaneously. (Matthew 6:24)

     Copper frequently partners with a marathon runner.  She says that marathon runners “never sprint”.  I can think of the times I’ve sprinted in my Christian walk!!  In the end I was left breathless and in dire need of a long rest. Sad to say, I almost always found myself back at the starting line.  Worse, I sometimes ended up far short of where I was when I began.  Succeeding in a sprint is dangerous.  It can bring about a prideful heart, and that prideful heart can, in the end, cause us to completely lose the marathon.  We are all familiar with the tale of the tortoise and the hare.  While the hare sprinted out far in advance, he left the tortoise in his dust.  Finding himself so far in the lead, that prideful ol’ rabbit sat down and took a siesta.  The tortoise, however, kept his eyes on the prize and slowly, and ever so quietly, yet steadily passed the rabbit by and crossed the finish line to obtain the prize.

     Are your eyes on the prize that the Lord has for you?  I Corinthians 9:24 – 25 tells us, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”

     We can clamor and race for the world’s rewards.  Trophies and medals.  Crowns and scepters.  No, not your thing?  How about money and fame?  All of these things will rust and tarnish with time.  In the end, they will rot and pass from view.  God’s rewards though are imperishable!  With eternity in view, we can work toward God’s reward for our children as we bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  With eternity in view, we can look for the Lord’s blessings, not man’s approval, as we homeschool our children.  With eternity in view, we can run the marathon in such a manner as to obtain the prize of God’s words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your households!
Proverbs 31:27

     Hat tip to Dani and her good friend, Christina.   Thanks, Tea Girl, for mailing that wonderful packet of special needs  information to me.   Lots to look through, but I’ve already found some encouraging things.  I’ve also found some great stuff to pass along to Corin.  Thanks, Dani, for sorting through the stack and putting the article on the top that gave me so much encouragement. 

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6 comments to Thursday March 29, 2007

  • Excellent post!  I must remember to run the race with patience–challenging sometimes. 🙂

  • As always, so, so wise.  Thanks Cheryl!

  • What an excellent post, Copper’s wife! You have given me a lot ot think about. I have been feeling bogged down about the Language Arts program that came with our curriculum. It works wonderfully for Grace but Emily is struggling. I’m going to be making some changes for her and making it more enjoyable.
    Thank you again for the great post!

  • Excellent, excellent post.  Your words were filled with so much truth and wisdom.  You have given me much to ponder over and for that I thank you.  I also wanted to tell you that I love your new profile picture.  I get to see your pretty smile up close:)

  • I really appreciated this – Oh how I wish Iwould have read this 2 years ago. Though I think the journey the Lord took me on was so sweet. I know it was a sprint I was trying to run. Today, this was timely. Thank you!

  • This was such a wonderful post!  I needed it, and you have inspired me.  So many good things to think about–I may even have to print it.  Thank you!