Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Endurance takes a long time to learn
You would think that as a distance runner I would have understood better the need for time in building endurance. I have run a full 26.2 marathon and will soon run my fourth half-marthon.
I know that endurance is not gained quickly. My daughter and I started training months ago in preparation for our event. Slowly but surely we have increased our runs from two miles to twelve miles. Even though I ran this same half-marathon event a year ago. I must still keep training or I will not be able to do it.
So why did I expect anything different in my spiritual life? Quick endurance does not exist. So, why am I surprised to still need the spiritual pluck to keep moving on in this season of non-crisis?
James 1:2-4 says, " Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
When we had bonus children come and stay with us for 9 weeks back in the spring of 2012, I recited these verses as often as I could in the few isolated moments that I could find. I focused on considering it pure joy by saying the phrase over and over. "Consider it pure joy...."
A few months later, after the kids returned to their families, my father-in-law went into the hospital and stayed for almost 5 months. My husband and I lived close so we were part of the hands-on care. While it was a privelege to serve family, care-taking is exhausting.
During this season, I began to recite James 1:2-4 again. This time the focus was on the perservance.
It has been two years since I first clung to these verses and, honestly, I am tired of clinging. I would like the lesson to be learned so that I can check it off my list. Perhaps even sing of the joy of the lesson learned. Instead, I am still here putting one step in front of the other, wishing that the feelings of joy came more often.
And today, just a few moments ago, I realized that endurance is not quickly learned.
"Stop being surprised, Kathleen, that endurance takes time!" I almost laughed out loud at this revelation. I need to keep on, keeping on in my considerations of joy.
I need to consider even these days of non-crisis but full of chaotic life-that-I-can-hardly-keep-up-with-three-teenagers all joy.
If one can only learn to run for hours by running for hours, it should come as no surprise that endurance in the spiritual life can only come through enduring trials for a long time.