Are you in a season where it feels challenging to live out your faith? Do you struggle with reading the Bible consistently or communicating with God in prayer? Maybe you feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling, and God does not know what you need. Or, worse, you wonder if He even cares.
Friend, let me reassure you we all go through seasons like this where we find it hard to live out our faith. However, there is good news. We can navigate through this season and come out on the other side with renewed, fresh faith.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband ran in the Boston Marathon. As most people running a marathon will do, he prepared for several months to ensure he could run the race and not only finish it but also complete it in a certain length of time.
Most mornings each week, he would wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 am to meet other running buddies to do training runs. Whether it was cold or rainy, it did not matter. He was out there training.
I could track his progress on an app so I would know where he was and when I needed to leave the hotel for the finish line to see him. I could tell he started really well, if not a bit ahead of his goal pace. As I watched for updates on the app, I could tell something was not quite right. He missed the projected time to reach the next checkpoint. When he did cross that checkpoint, he was a bit off pace. He slowed down some and then sped up, but he could not make up for the time he lost about halfway through the race. So he did not finish the race in the time he wanted and trained for. But he still finished at a good pace and felt good overall. He said he started too quickly and got caught up in the excitement of the race, so his energy got zapped more quickly than he had planned.
I’ve been thinking about his preparation for the race, and the race itself is similar to how Paul describes living out his faith in Hebrews 12:1-2 which 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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Similarities Between Training for a Marathon & Living Out Your Faith
It takes discipline to run a marathon. Early mornings and long runs are the norm. You have to run consistently to develop the endurance it takes to finish a marathon.
It’s much the same when it comes to living out our faith. Committing to and following through with spending time with God in His Word and prayer takes discipline. If we let our Bibles collect dust and don’t take the time to talk to God, we will never grow in our faith and most likely will not handle times of crisis very well. Daily dying to self and following God’s plan for our lives takes discipline.
When training for a marathon, you don’t just walk out the door and start running. You need a training plan that will help increase your mileage and endurance over several months. A systematic approach to running will help you have a better chance of completing the marathon.
It’s also essential to have a plan when living out our faith. It can be as simple as using a daily devotional resource to participating in a Bible study. Finding a plan you can follow consistently will help you so much when it comes to staying in God’s Word and prayer with Him.
Steven ran something like 900 miles in preparation for this marathon. Running a marathon takes a significant investment of time. It takes to time to run the required miles. And it takes time to develop the endurance it takes to complete a marathon.
It takes time for us to grow in our faith. Time reading the Bible. Time praying. Time learning how to apply what we’ve learned.
Unless you are an elite runner pursuing the top prize, generally, you only compete against yourself in races like these. You are usually trying to run faster than you have before, or in some cases, maybe your goal is to run more than walk in the marathon. The bottom line is you’re not comparing your running journey to anyone else.
Sometimes I think we get discouraged about living out our faith because we see other people who either seem to be getting blessing upon blessing from God, have few troubles, or are succeeding in some way. You’ve been trying to succeed, yet you don’t seem to measure up. Or we can get discouraged when someone knows more about the Bible than us and knows exactly how to minister in any situation. I could give many examples, but you get the picture.
So how does this analogy of running a marathon help us live out our faith even when it’s difficult?
I think the best place to start is with the last similarity I mentioned: competition. Your faith walk is your own. You are running your own race of faith. Having this mindset allows us to proceed at our own pace with God’s grace. There will be times in our lives when we have to fight to hang on to our faith. We must fight for the time to read the Bible and do what it says. However, we’ll also have times when we can flourish and dwell longer in the Word and prayer. The key is to remember your faith walk is not a competition with anyone else.
Second, let’s go back to what we talked about with discipline. If we want to grow in our faith and live it out even when it’s difficult, we must have the discipline to read the Bible, pray, worship God, and fellowship with other believers. That may mean setting aside your phone for a while. I’ve talked about my own struggles with the phone in past episodes. And I can attest that when I put boundaries around my phone, I can spend more time with God and actually hear from Him instead of my scattered thoughts.
Third, let’s talk about time. Reading, learning, and understanding how God wants us to live out our faith individually takes time. So we have to make room in our schedules for this. It won’t happen if we don’t have a plan. When planning my week, I set boundaries around the time I plan to spend with God. I try my best not to let anything encroach on that time. There are times when I’ve realized I need to let some things go to have the time to spend with Him. It’s just a process you’ll have to work through to ensure adequate time with God.
When you put together these things: a mindset that your faith walk is not a competition, discipline, and a plan to use your time wisely, you can begin to lay the foundation of faith that will serve you well when difficult times come. The key to all of this is consistency. Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, spending time with God will continue to build on the foundation you’ve established to help you grow stronger in your faith. You will be able to navigate difficult seasons better when you have this strong foundation.
If you want more encouragement or accountability when living out your faith, I encourage you to join the free Live It Out Community Group. I’d love to connect with you there and help you on your faith journey.