I had the honor to cheer on some friends in their first marathon just a few days ago.
I don’t run, but standing at the finish line watching the runners stride toward the end of their 13.1 or 26.2 mile race, I got caught up in the energy. You didn’t have to know the marathoner to cheer for them. They were happy for any encouragement and those of us on the sidelines were happy to give it.
The energy at the finish line was incredible! I was lucky to have a spot about 100 feet maybe from the end. Right on the rail.
Standing there, I thought to myself, “I want to do this!”
The thing is, I wanted the excitement and accolades at the end of the race. To get where I was, I walked a mile from my car and stood there for about 50 minutes, and by that time, my feet were hurting. Truthfully, if I’m disliking the pain in my feet after a 1 mile walk and a few minutes standing around, what makes me think I can run a marathon?
I had to admit to myself that unless I was willing to do the 25.8 miles before the last turn to the finish, I had no business doing the half a mile at the end.
There are a lot of applications you can make with that story like wanting someone else’s accolade without wanting their hard work or pain.
But spiritually, how often do I want the rewards in heaven, but I’m not willing to put in the discipline on earth? And when I say discipline, I mean thinking less of myself and my earthly wants and more of being like Christ and serving others.
Laying up treasure in heaven is a difficult spiritual discipline for me. America has been so gifted with material possessions and I am very much an American. As I see the people around the world that have everything taken away from them for being like Christ, my first reaction is to think, “well, maybe if they stayed quiet.” Then I have to immediately remind myself that that’s the wrong thing to think. No, I should never want to stay quiet about being a follower of Jesus when it could mean the loss of everything I own.
When I get to heaven, I want to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” But that means I have to use this life to be that good and faithful servant.
Those 26.2 miles my friends ran were long and brutal, but the pain will end, the soreness will go away, but they’ll have that finishers medal forever.
Am I training for rewards in heaven, or letting the treasures of the earth get in my way?