Today begins the final week of the 2013 spring gobbler hunting season here in Virginia. The season has been extremely exciting, the best I recall in terms of the numbers of birds to which I have been close and the crazy behaviors I have seen some exhibit. However, it has also been quite grueling, especially with the days getting longer and the sun rising earlier, needing to wake most mornings here lately around 3:30am. You've got to be dedicated, insane, or likely a good mixture of both to stick it out for the duration of the season! With not many birds gobbling during the latter part of the season, most hunters start to opt for sleeping in. But my goal is to fill my third and final gobbler tag, something I have never accomplished, and in order to get it done, I have to keep going, keep putting myself in locations where I know birds are staying and hope that one morning this week it will all come together.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NASB)
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Perseverance, endurance and self-control - these are vital keys that are required of any of us who want to accomplish a personal goal or challenge. For me right now, my personal challenge is to attempt to fill my last gobbler tag. In order to pull it off, I cannot become content with the season's previous successes, let chronic tiredness overtake me, or let my frustration with non-vocal and uncooperative gobblers steal my focus. Sure, I have had a great season up to this point, but if I head to the sidelines prematurely, I can say for sure that my goal will not be accomplished. The finish is the part that matters.
The Bible speaks of a race that requires our utmost perseverance and endurance - it is our journey of faith. And just like the many distractions that could sideline me in my current goal, scripture instructs each of us to lay aside every encumbrance and sin that entangles and distracts us from our goal of continuing to run and ultimately finishing strong our race of faith in Jesus Christ. I encourage you to examine your faith journey to see if anything is sidelining you in your spiritual race. Remember, the finish is the part that matters, and keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus is the only sure fire way to continue running the race and ultimately win the prize. - GE