Today was a beautiful morning in South Mississippi and a great day for a race. That's what I should have been thinking, but truthfully I just wanted to pull the covers back over my head and get a couple hours more sleep. Still, I got up because I had promised friends I would be there to support a good cause.
When the run began, I found my usual place in the back. I had no illusions that I would have a great race...I simply wanted to finish. The whistle blew for us to begin and I took off at a fairly slow pace. This would be the first time I'd run in weeks and I didn't even have time to warm up...guess I'd just consider my first mile the "warm-up."
I was surprised at how good those first few steps began to feel. I had a bit more "pick up" in my feet than I thought I'd have and even though the race began with a slight incline, I quickened my pace just a bit. When I finally allowed myself to check my distance, I'd covered half a mile. Not bad. I just might be able to pull out a decent run after all.
It was at the one mile mark that the random thought hit me. I had just had an "argument" with myself about whether I should stop and walk or keep running, and I realized, it wasn't that I was out of breath or in pain. I was tired, but not to the point of exhaustion. If I stopped running and walked, it was because I'd lost the battle in my mind.
I started thinking about "battles" we fight in other areas of our lives and it occurred to me that most of them are won or lost in the mind. It is in our mind that we either quit or endure.
There is a verse in Titus that ties in with this and it caught my attention. It is Titus 2:2: "Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance." I never really thought about the fact that it is the older ones among us who need to be reminded to endure. Perhaps it is because we have convinced ourselves that since we are older, we should have an excuse to tire more quickly...to stop before the race is done. For some, it is even an excuse to not begin the race at all. Think about how many times you have heard, "I'm too old for this." Just because we are older, does not mean that we should no longer endure. Romans 5:4 says: "For everything that is written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." When we look to the scriptures we can find that encouragement that helps us win the battle of the mind.
Caleb was 80 when they entered the promised land. When it came time to divide out the land, he asked for the hill country! That would be the most difficult to settle, but he was ready for whatever challenges might come. Caleb had long ago won the battle of the mind. When he went in to check out the promised land, he believed not what his eyes saw, but what God had said. He didn't worry that the promise had "expired" like some out of date coupon. He did not consider his age in whether or not God could do what He had promised. It wasn't even a factor. God had promised it, and that was enough.
I finished the race today, a bit slower than I would have liked, but I finished it all the same. I can't say I completely won the battle of my mind, but hopefully I learned a few things along the way. It is time to turn more to the scriptures to find the encouragement that I need to endure...not so much in races, but in the spiritual battles I face. If I am following the promises of God, then He will be faithful...the question is, will I endure? This is a battle of the mind that I want to win.