We have a lot of passages in scripture that speak of running. It is often used as an illustration of perseverance as in running a race to win and it is a good illustration..
With running we think of giving it everything we have to compete and win the race.
To the Corinthian Church Paul Wrote: (1 Cor 9:24 NIV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: (Heb 12:1 NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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. And Paul, towards the end of his ministry wrote in a letter to Timothy: (2 Tim 4:7 NIV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Tonight I would like to use another illustration of perseverance, walking. There are even more references in scripture that speak of walking. When we think of running, the idea of hurrying comes to mind, doing things quickly, racing towards a goal. But what about walking? It signifies a slower, steady, focused aim. Walking also gives the impression of experiencing the journey not just the finish. For instance when I walk to the store instead of driving, I notice things such as landscapes, birds, or who has mean dogs.
It’s funny because in nature there are many slow moving creatures that accomplish great tasks. Take for instance the spider. I walk around my yard a lot. When I walk by my boat in this one area I almost always walk into a web. The spider is not harmful and I don’t have the heart to kill it because it is such a magnificent artist. So I usually destroy the art, which is the web, and shoo the spider to the ground. I could do that in the morning and by evening I walk into a beautiful web once again. I don’t know if it’s the same spider but I do know the web was destroyed a few hours earlier. That little guy perseveres through his task and ends up with a beautiful functional web.
In scripture there are many references that use walking as an illustration of slow focused perseverance to accomplish a goal.
Psalm 26:2-3 reads: Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.
Again the psalmist declares (116:8-9 NIV) For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
The writer of proverbs notes (14:2 NIV) He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him.
And Micah the wrote: (6:8 NIV) He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
All of these illustrations signify not necessarily a slow but a focused, continual pace that is in step with the way of the Lord, which brings me to why I am using this illustration in the first place.
The search committee hit the ground running when we first started. We accomplished a lot very quickly. We developed the church profile, contacted many leads, reviewed many applications and did it all in a relatively short amount of time. We then hit December and slowed due to the holidays then slowed even more due to doors being closed with some candidates. But we are still moving and the pace is picking up. Let’s remember the goal at hand, to select the man that the Lord has set before us. Let’s keep focused, let’s keep pace, and let’s keep in step with the ways the Lord has shown us: To seek Him first, to confess our sins before Him, to petition Him for guidance, and to trust that He will present us with His man in His time as we walk in step with Him.