The 5th mile.
The testing of the spirit, soul, and body.
As I worked my way around the track, my mind, my body, and the devil would tell me all sorts of things. My mind would be telling me, "It's dark out here. Everyone else is still in bed. What you are doing doesn't make any sense. Go home." My body would be telling me, "I hurt. I don't like this and I'm going to shut down. Lungs are shutting down. Legs are shutting down." And the devil would be planting those little seeds of doubt continuously through the 5th mile. "The breakthrough isn't going to come this time. You don't have the endurance for long distance; you were born with heart disease. If you quit now, the pain will end and you will feel better."
It would have been so easy for me to give in to that thinking or those feelings of painful endurance. It would have been so easy to stop running, get on my bike and ride back to the dorm.
I knew how easy it was because there were mornings I did just that. There were mornings I quit at the 5th mile.
On those days, the days I quit, disappointment always seemed to hang around me the rest of the day. I was disappointed in myself, but more than that I was disappointed in what I had missed.
You see, the sky was still dark during the 5th mile, but toward the end of the 6th mile the sun would begin to rise over the horizon. For the next 4 - 5 miles I would see the most glorious picture being painted right before my eyes.
The sun's rays reflecting off the desert would produce pinks, oranges, and reds only God could create. The sunrise would literally light up the palm trees circling the track. There is not a piece of artwork in the world that can compare with the beauty God painted for me every morning. For most people, it would be just another day of school or just another day at work, but for me...it would be a day God painted into my life.
Psalms 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."
I believe we are three part beings: we are a spirit; we have a soul (mind, will, and emotions); and we live in a body. When our spirit is the strongest of the three is when I believe we are in our most advantageous, powerful, and most fully functioning state.
Faith is found in our spirit. Faith is not in our flesh -- our bodies cannot produce faith. And faith is not in our minds -- our minds work by our senses. Our mind develops logic and reason through the knowledge we take in through our senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch).
As I wrote in Part 1, I could not "feel" patience and perseverance working as I ran around the track. Every day my mind and my body teamed up to work against me. Every day they both worked to get me to quit.
By faith, every morning at that 5th mile I had to believe my breakthrough would come. By faith, every morning I had to overcome the pain in my body and the negative thoughts in my mind.
The mornings I persevered through the 5th mile, my breakthrough always came. And I was always rewarded with a glorious picture of the power of God in the rising of the sun.
The testing and trials of our faith will come.
As Easter approaches I am reminded how there are always two sides to the process of endurance. The first is always the testing and the trial. The second is always the breakthrough and the reward. But just because there are two sides doesn't mean you automatically experience both. The first you are guaranteed to experience. The second you experience only if you choose to.
I look to the Bible for words of strength during my times of testing and trials. Whatever your belief system may be, I encourage you to find words that will build your faith during your times of testing and trials.
In the Bible, James 1:2-4 tells us "Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
One of the qualities I have found many people lack is the twin combination of patience and perseverance. Our dominant thoughts will be the ones we focus on the most. Our dominant responses will be the ones we've trained the most. Our dominant actions will be the ones in which we are the strongest. Good or bad. Positive or negative. Love or hate. Quit or breakthrough.
Patience and perseverance are powerful forces. I encourage you to allow perseverance and patience to do its perfect work in you and in your life. Build your faith through the 5th mile. Do not give in to negative thoughts. Do not give in to negative emotions. Do not give in to a body that may want to quit.
By faith, know that your breakthrough will come.
The 6th mile is just ahead.
For me, I've learned my breakthrough will always come and as Easter approaches I know that I will forever be rewarded with the glorious picture of the power of God in the rising of the Son.