Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she lives with her husband, two Golden Retrievers and a six-toed cat. Her devotionals have won awards in Canada and the U.S. and have been endorsed by Mark Buchanan, Phil Callaway and Jeanette Oke.
Anyone who has watched an Olympic race has probably seen a false start. An over-eager competitor leaps from the starting gate a moment before the gun goes off. An official is usually quick to call the runners back to start again. Everyone feels the loss of energy, the sudden let-down and the need to immediately refocus and settle in for another try.
I was once in an old house that looked like a false start. Walls and windows had been knocked out and only partly replaced. A doorway had been sealed up with gyp-rock, but not painted. The walls in the kitchen too, were bare and unfinished. The man who owned the house obviously had big dreams and expectations at one time, but somewhere along the way he had run out of steam. He had started well but finished poorly.
It can often seem that our lives are made up of false starts. We graduate from school and set out in a direction we are sure will lead to success, only to find there is no future in it. We launch into a business venture we are sure will reap benefits, but find before long it is leading to financial ruin. We start a writing project but run out of steam before it’s finished, leaving us with nothing but spent energy. It can feel like failure.
Sometimes even our spiritual lives can seem like a series of false starts. We get enthused about prayer, resolving to spend hours at it, but after a while it takes all we can muster to take a few moments to concentrate. We determine to set aside a regular time for Bible study, and for a while all goes well, but life seems to conspire against us. That discipline too, is left in the dust. It feels like failure. Like the athlete who has just burst from the starting line only to be stopped short, we sometimes find we have expended all our energy but have had to go back and try again. And again. Like the athlete, we must refocus. We must persevere, with the goal in mind.
Perseverance is the mark of a winner. It is through perseverance that races are won, houses are renovated and books are written. It is through perseverance that spiritual growth also occurs. The writer of the book of Hebrews gives us the key – “… and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1&2) The goal in the spiritual life, is not to keep trying harder, but to keep focused on Christ. When we focus on Jesus, prayer becomes as natural as breathing and Bible study a joy. When we focus on Jesus the false starts don’t matter. It is Jesus who will perfect our faith.
Have you had a few false starts in your life lately? Don’t focus on the “failures.” Focus on Christ, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”