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Running the race marked out for us

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By Dave Henning / May 30, 2019

“The Bible doesn’t tell us to mark out our race just the way we like it and run — it’s been marked out for us, so we don’t choose its difficulty level, nor do we receive a map of the obstacles that lie ahead. . . .  One way we know we’re running the race marked out for us is the presence of regular, unexpected challenges.”- Kyle Idleman

” ‘The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’  When I (Nehemiah) heard these things, I sat down and wept.  For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”- Nehemiah 1:3-4 (NIV)

In Chapter 8 (“Obstacle Course”) of Don’t Give Up, Kyle Idleman notes the invitation in Hebrews 12 to persevere as we run the race marked out for us.  Furthermore, Pastor Idleman states, the word race, in the Greek, is agon.  It’s the origin of our word agony.  Thus, the use of the word agon indicates that we run a difficult, demanding, and challenging race.  As Kyle quips, ‘fun run’ fails to describe this race.

Nehemiah lived a comfortable life in the inner circle of the palace in Persia’s capital city.  Yet, when he heard what happened to Jerusalem, he knew it was time to enter the race.  But, Kyle asserts, it’s also time to discover four basic obstacles we all face.  The author covers the first one today.

1.  The Obstacle of Indifference.  Because indifference often keeps us from even running, Kyle considers it the mother of all obstacles.  Since Nehemiah had never seen Jerusalem, he could have chosen to do nothing.

Psychologists call this the ‘bystander effect’.  People watch an obvious call to action, but choose to do nothing because:

  • they believe someone else in the crows will intervene.
  • they believe that nothing can be done.

Finally, in cartoons, Popeye always put up with bad stuff – like Brutus pestering Olive Oyl – before he ate his spinach and took action.  As Popeye said, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”  So when you see a wrong that needs righting, at what point do you decide to take action?  When do you get on the track and start running the race marked out for you?

Today’s question: Has the obstacle of indifference ever stopped you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Dependence on God’s power and protection”

About the author

Dave Henning


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