back at the starting line…again.

 

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Do you ever get tired of doing the same thing?

I don’t mean the daily grind of routine – I mean, dealing with the same struggle, falling into the same traps, failing in the same areas you failed in last year, ten years ago.

It feels so redundant. I am constantly asking God, “Haven’t I already learned this?”

Maybe it’s a secret sin no one knows about. Maybe it’s anger. Or lying. Maybe hopelessness that is too deep to share with anyone.

At times, it may feel like this never ending cycle, circle, whatever you want to call it. Maybe similar to a race track. A forever connected circle, where the end and the beginning share the same line. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want it to look that way for me. I don’t want to to make it to the end just to start at the beginning again. I want to see progress, maybe run a new track.

I really want to be a runner, but it’s just not God’s will for my life. I give up pretty quickly and walk and convince myself that running and then walking is actually burning more calories. What is the truth? Who really knows.

Whether we like it or not, we’re here. Alive. Running (or walking) somewhere. And more often than I’d like, I feel like I’ve been stuck running the same circle.

But here is the thing. I have learned that although I may be running a familiar road, when the circle looks the same as it did five years ago, I am not the same.

The journey is still new. Just like a runner’s track, each step in the dirt digs deeper, laying down more of a mark. When I sit back and think of it, isn’t that really what I’d hope for anyway? Rather than starting over, starting brand new every time I see breakthrough, I’m starting back at the same start line; each time, more familiar with the journey. I know where the turns are. I can anticipate things that might throw me off. Maybe it doesn’t take me as long to reach the finish line as it did last time.

Maybe it is not the punishment of God that we tend to have trends in our struggles. Maybe it is His kindness. It is not like we are running aimlessly on a hamster wheel with no destination. It is the complete opposite. We are running with intention, and He allows us to hang out on the same stretch of road at times.

God is always doing a new thing in us. Always, always. But that doesn’t mean what is in front of us will always change. God is in it for the long haul, for the lifelong process of refining. Of a prize that will last forever. This thing is not a sprint.

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-26

Every struggle, every missed step is an opportunity to train with purpose. Too often we lose our step, and beat ourselves up because we’ve done this before. These truths are not an excuse for us to stay stuck, drowning in sin or addiction. Jesus is clear that He has given us a standard for living, and He has so graciously given us complete freedom.

But He does promise that we will have trouble in this world. It’s not always going to go the way we want. He made us human. Knowing we would have flaws, that we’d miss the point, that we wouldn’t always get it right.

And His promise is that through and in spite all of this, He has overcome.

The truth is that although we have changed, He never has.

He is the hero of every story.

He is the same throughout history, and your life struggle is no exception.

The greatest part about running the same dirt road over and over is that He remains.

Through every broken heart, every dark season where you don’t feel like you’re running anywhere at all.

Every harsh word that spills out of your mouth that you wish you could take back. Every time you feel out of control. Each time you doubt. When you wonder if He has truly created you for anything good.

He’s at the beginning, pushing you forward.

He’s in the middle, sustaining, encouraging, challenging, cheering you on.

He’s waiting at the end. At the end of every breakthrough. When you are at the end of yourself, He stays.

So let’s stop despising our stories.

Let’s accept the struggles we face and run them with purpose.

Stand up straight and own it. Cover some ground and leave your mark. Let others pass by the places that you have run for years and marvel at the grit, the hard work, the discipline. And most importantly, let your weakness point you back to the One who will give you true strength.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

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