1 Corinthians 9:24-27
I knew the moment I stepped outside that it was going to be a rough run. The temperature had dropped a good fifteen degrees into the low 50s and the wind was gusting. The wind was my problem; it is my enemy. I would rather run in temperatures below freezing with nary a breeze rather than in the 50s with the wind rushing around.
Sure enough, the journey through my neighborhood was a struggle. Every minute or two the wind would push back against me like some gusty Gandalf declaring that I shall not pass. It was miserable, but I pressed on. I should have expected this anyway. December runs tend to be a fight.
When I came to a stop four miles later, my lungs burned. This feeling is common when a person exercises for extended periods in cold weather. Scientifically speaking, the cold air causes the cells around the trachea to become dehydrated thus resulting in a burning sensation.
It does not feel good and yet, in a weird way, I like it. The fire in my lungs means that I have pushed myself against the elements. Instead of letting the wind and the cold stop me in my tracks, I have trudged on. I have finished what I started.
I try to resist using war language when I talk about faith. While that is in scripture, people tend to twist in ways that run counter to what Jesus preached and embodied. But faith is a resistance. It is a cold, uphill battle with the wind of how this world works gusting in our faces. There are times when it would be easy to pack up, go to our warm homes, and kick up our feet in apathy.
But if we follow Jesus, we must press on for he pressed on. We must keep moving forward. We must fight the greed, pride, hatred, self-doubt, selfishness, and everything else that comes our way. We must continue to love God and love those around us. Keeping with the themes of Advent, we must persist in hoping and waiting even as the icy air howls at us.
That can be difficult especially at this time of the year when so much is going on. As wonderful as this season is, it is fraught with situations, memories, and moments that can make us want to give up. Don't. It is my prayer in this homestretch of Advent that, by the grace of God and with the help of those alongside you, you will feel the fire in your lungs.