requires a massive effort

“…let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus…” [Hebrews 12:1].

Max Lucado explains that “The word race is from the Greek agon, from which we get the word agony. The Christian’s race is not a jog but rather a demanding and grueling, sometimes agonizing race. It takes a massive effort to finish strong.”

Years ago, back when I was much younger and far more foolish, I decided that I wanted to run a marathon, 26.5 miles of incredible pain and agony, for which the reward is simply one of personal achievement. The first 21 miles were satisfying and enjoyable, but then…”the wall” reared its ugly and agonizing face.

The wall occurs when your body has depleted itself of all its supply of energy, stored throughout the body as fat, and begins to devour muscle. In an instant every nerve and muscle screams out in agony; you have this overwhelming need to quit, to give up, to remove the pain. You tell yourself that there is no shame in quitting, after all, no one forced you to do this, is it really worth the effort.

At 21 miles I was on pace to finish in a bit over 3 hours. I finished in 5-1/2 hours. The final 5.5 miles took almost as long as the first 21 miles. But I finished. And what I discovered in finishing was that in order to finish the race one must take the necessary steps, endure the agony that presents itself, and never quit.

Life itself is a race where the goal is to come face-to-face with Jesus, to receive the reward of eternal life. It is almost always filled with agony and pain that requires “a massive effort to finish strong.” Many never even take the first step; they simply sit on the sidelines and watch those who have chosen to run the race. Others start but then, when they hit the wall, they quit; the pain is just too much for them to continue. They didn’t think it would be so difficult; the agony simply isn’t worth the reward.

Max Lucado further writes “By contrast, Jesus’ best work was his final work, and his strongest step was his last step. Our Master is the classic example of one who endured….He could have quit the race. But he didn’t.”

To see God you must run the race, endure the pain, and never quit. You can choose to watch, choose to quit, or choose to endure the agony and run the race. The choice is yours.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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