Tough stuff is available everywhere.
I remember way, way back in the 1980’s, I lived in the Atlanta, Georgia area. And, just in case you didn’t know this, they have a famous 10k run every year. It’s called the Peachtree Road Race. And it goes through sections of Atlanta that include some fairly good-sized hills. So, it’s a good challenge. And I decided to take it on.
And so, I went out and bought my expensive, fancy schmancy running gear. Oh wait. No, I didn’t. I just put on my basic blue sweatshirt and sweat pants, pulled a pair of running shorts over them, slipped on my basic sneakers, and took off from my apartment to go run the neighborhood.
It was January. And I started training then because the 10k run would be around the 4th of July. So, I knew I’d need months to prepare. So, like I said, I left my apartment for the first run.
There was a small school nearby, with a running track. And I figured going around in circles for a while would be a better start than trying to tackle the hills right away. So, I headed over there. And the track was covered with about three inches of snow, the kind that gets a slightly crunchy shell on top. But I started running in crunchy circles, and after about three laps, I had a smoother surface.
After about two weeks of running on the track, I decided I needed a change of scenery.
So, I took off for a run through the extended neighborhood. And it was going well enough until I turned one corner and faced “the monster.”
“The Monster” was a steep neighborhood hill that was close to the beginning of my run. In other words, before I even got warmed up there it was. And the first time up it was slow. Like S. L. O. W. slow. But I struggled through and made it to the top. Then, a large section of the run was either level or somewhat downhill.
And I didn’t like that setup.
But after days, then weeks, of tackling that hill I noticed something mighty cool. I wasn’t struggling to barely make it up the monster. In fact, I conquered the monster with a bounce in my steps. Take that, monster!
Then, I noticed something else. Without much of a conscious decision I started running further (or was it farther?) And each week I’d add to my mileage. Because that 10k (aka 6.213712 miles) was the goal. I didn’t want to just “make it through” the Peachtree Road Race. I wanted to run it, finish with a smile, get my accomplishment t-shirt, and have plenty of fuel left for anything else I wanted to do that day.
So, I trained. And I ran every day. Even when it rained or snowed (which was only a couple of times in Atlanta) or started getting hot and humid. And I added the miles until it was no big deal to run 6 miles. Or even more.
And I got to that point some people call the “runner’s high” or the “second wind.” That was awesome. I could run till I got my second wind, and then it felt like I could run for however long I wanted. And it felt grrrreat!
And I owed it all to “The Monster.”
Because the tough stuff made me tough enough to reach and surpass my goals.
So, I think that’s a little example of why Paul told the Philippians (and you and me) to keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize. But he wasn’t talking about some dumb t-shirt. He said the prize is the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” And that ain’t 10k. That’s solid gold.
Reach out through the tough stuff.
Press on through the pouring rain.
And you’ll find enough stuff
To turn your loss into gain.
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