Daily Devotional “Halfway Home”

Daily Devotional
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June 6, 2022

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Most days after school Clay does volunteer work at our office, packing boxes and stuffing envelopes.

But now that it’s cross-country season, he’s out on the roads and trails, pushing his body to its limits.

Keeping me updated, my young friend tells me that his school has already won several meets this year. In one race, he placed tenth in a field of sixty-five runners.

When I had the chance, I asked Clay a question that had been on my mind since he joined the team: What’s the most difficult part of a long-distance run?

I’ve heard some say it’s that first mile or so. Your muscles feel tight and the long course seems to stretch out forever before you.

Others have told me it’s that final stretch that’s the killer. You’re exhausted, your limbs feel like wood, and you’re scarcely able to lift one foot in front of the other.

But Clay had a different answer. The worst part of a cross-country run, he told me, is neither the beginning nor the end.

It’s the middle—the long and lonely tramp, those seemingly endless minutes when you’re out of the range of those cheering voices at the start and finish lines. It’s that long, gray, middle distance that saps your strength and your will.

My friend quoted a verse that helps him when he hits that mid-point in the race.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Some say the prophet Isaiah had those very mid-point blues in mind when he gave this prophecy to Israel.

As Israel was released at last from the long captivity, God promised he would go with them on the long trek from Babylon to Jerusalem.

And yes, he would be with them when they hit that desolate midpoint of the journey…when the way back was as far as the way forward…when the desert sun washed the landscape of color and the destination seemed a lost and distant thing. A mirage on the far horizon.

Have you been there?

Do you ever feel like you’re in the middle of a long stretch of the same old routine? Yes, the beginning of the Christian life was exhilarating. Lots of smiles and handshakes and encouragement.

Your emotions soared. And the end? Well, it’s going to be indescribably joyous and exciting meeting the Lord Jesus face-to-face.

But now…you’re in the middle.

There are miles behind you and, for all you know, miles to go. You don’t hear any cheers or applause. That first shot of spiritual adrenaline wore off a long time ago.

The days run together. So do the weeks. Your commitment to simply keep putting one tired foot in front of the other begins to flag and fade.

Ah, but the promise in Isaiah is as much for you as it is for Israel. And it is every bit as true now as it was when it was penned thousands of years ago.

If we walk in the Spirit, our strength will be renewed. We will run and not be weary. Even in the long, gray, middle distance, we will walk and not be faint.

The writer of Hebrews also had some good words for fainting saints.

In chapter 12 he wrote: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (vv. 1-2).

A little later in the chapter he offered some encouragement for those with sore legs and feet—those who seemed on the verge of dropping out of the race.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (vv. 12-13).

Even though it may not seem like it right now, the race will soon be over. The tape is just ahead—around the bend, over the hill, and through some trees. Believers who have gone ahead crowd the grandstands, awaiting your triumphant finish.

Yes, the middle part of the race is difficult. Sometimes excruciating. But every step brings you closer to that finish line. Fix your eyes on the One who awaits you there.

You’re halfway home.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Acts 20:24
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Hebrews 10:36, NASB
Please pray with me: Father, though our lives here on earth are brief, the way can seem long sometimes. Our bodies become weary, our loads feel heavy, and our strength and hope can fail us just when we need it most.

Father, you are the One who promises new strength to the weary. You are the One who lifts our head, and draws us toward the light and beauty just over the horizon.

Keep us running strong and steady and true. Refocus our eyes on the Lord Jesus, the One who endured so much for us, and waits for us at the finish line. In his strong name, amen.

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