Many times in the New Testament, Paul refers to life as a race. However, in my experience, I think of life’s “race” as more of an obstacle course! I would even go so far as to say that it’s like an agility course for dogs. I know that sounds silly, but hear me out.
I was recently watching a video of this funny little dog trying to run through an obstacle course, however he was completely messing up. He was so excited, but also very easily distracted. Although he had a difficult time staying focused, every time his master called to him, he recognized her voice and got back on track. I found myself laughing at the scenario and then began to think about how it could be an example of us, as followers of Jesus, running our obstacle course, with Him trying to guide us through.
Without His teaching, training, and guidance, like these agility dogs, we would have no idea what we were doing or how to successfully run our race.
I know that this comparison has holes in it but you get the idea. The part I want to emphasize is that God wants us to to keep our eyes on him and ears listening for his voice, as we run our course and face our obstacles.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
I want to remind you that the small obstacles in our lives, the inconveniences, difficulties, being uncomfortable, put out, mistreated, unappreciated, overlooked, or struggles in general are actually opportunities! Opportunities to express the fruit from the Holy Spirit and to strengthen our faith muscles. We need to realize that we are truly blessed to have such small difficulties in our lives.
I fully understand how difficult this can be! In my current situation I’m living in a house with 6 (on occasion 7) adults and 2 children. We all have very different personalities, life experiences, issues, challenges, schedules, parenting styles, eating habits…you name it! This creates many opportunities for obstacles, not to mention the difficulties we may face outside our doors. We may all be believers and from the same family, but it is still challenging to get along. You might even say that everyday is a new obstacle course that each one of us is maneuvering.
However, I’m truly thankful and genuinely love each and every one of them! I’m grateful that God has allowed us to be so close and I’m even more thankful that I get to exercise my faith muscles! I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know when the next opportunity to face a trial or tribulation will come, but I do know that the Holy Spirit has provided me with everything I need to lovingly and successfully work through each obstacle.
James 1:2-4 says, “ Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
As we experience disappointments and irritations, be aware that there are people currently facing enormous obstacles, extremely difficult situations, or real tragedy. You may even be one of them! We need to remember that the obstacles we face each day are a blessing! They can be used to help prepare us for the bigger trial by strengthening our spiritual muscles. They need to be worked and exercised like our physical muscles to become strong, The stronger our spiritual muscles are, the more equipped we are to face the challenge of those enormous obstacles.
Let’s keep our eyes on the Author and finisher of our faith and consider those small obstacles good for us! They help us to learn to trust our loving heavenly Father, recognize His voice, and follow His guidance so that when the more challenging obstacles come, we are equipped to be victorious and have greater faith.