You Will Never Get over This
I was thinking this week about what Peter wrote to the scattered believers in the first century: “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” It reminded me of a time more than 15 years ago when I decided to run a longer distance than I had ever done before. It was nowhere near a marathon. But it felt like a marathon. I was OK the first half, and for most of the way back. But with about 2 miles to go, I wanted to quit so badly I could almost taste it. My lungs were fine and my legs weren’t that tired, but I was immersed in a colossal battle in my mind, nonetheless. It was early in the morning, before folks were out working in their yards. If someone had been outside as I ran past, he might have wondered why this guy was shuffling along, saying, “Help me, Jesus…Oh Lord, please, help me.” When I wasn’t praying for help, I was trying to encourage myself with things like, “Come on, Mark, don’t quit. You can make it. Don’t quit.” I thought about my friend Jeff, who competed then in Iron Man Triathlons, and who said at a Men’s Breakfast a few weeks earlier, “You can do a lot more than you think you can.” So, I kept running. I began to tell myself that I could run a half mile more before quitting. Then after that half mile, I would tell myself that I had at least one more half mile in me, and that I could do more than I thought I could.
But what I was really thinking about to the point that it became an obsession the last 2 miles, was the finish line, and the water bottle that awaited me there. I had placed a bottle of water and a towel at the top of my driveway. The scene replayed in my mind over and over. I saw myself finishing the run and grabbing the water bottle. I tried to decide how much I would pour on my head and how much I would pour in my mouth. I wondered how good it would feel to not be running any more. I wondered if I would ever stop running. I wondered if I was still going in the right direction.
I think I was delirious.
When I finished the race and gulped that coveted prize of 16 ounces of the best tasting water I had ever put in my mouth, it was a sweet reward.
How much sweeter and how much more satisfying is the love of Christ.
The Apostle Paul said that he prayed for us that we “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.” The word he used for comprehend means to lay hold on something with all of your might, as though your life depended on it. Like a drowning man would grab a rope that is thrown overboard to him. As much as my body craved that liquid refreshment when I was feeling dehydrated from a long run, my soul thirsts much more for a love that will never end. The Bible teaches that such a love is there for the taking. Not only that, but the love of Christ has breadth: it reaches to the whole world. There is no tongue or tribe or nation that is not included in his love. The love of Christ is as long as eternity. The love of Christ is deep enough to overcome the darkest sin. The love of Christ is so high that you and I will never get over it.
That’s a prize worth running after.