Matthew 24:13
But he who endures to the end shall be saved

Comforting, yet daunting words, spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ; one who knows all too well the endurance that is needed if we are to survive on, and beyond, this earth. My question is "what is endurance"?

Firstly I think of an endurance race...I think of the Ironman Triathlon. Triathlon was my sport many a year ago (back in 'young' days) so I know some of what it takes to go from one painful experience and straight into another. Why we people choose to push ourselves to such extremes is beyond me, I guess it's the outcome of racing, enduring and finishing that gets people into it.

Finishing...I think that's the key. Those that have a one-off go at a Triathlon put themselve voluntarily into that gruelling event for no other reason than to say that they did it and finished. Notice the key word there "voluntarily". Those of us that have chosen to follow Jesus have done so voluntarily; there is no other way to do it. We have chosen to put ourslves into this gruelling life of separation from the world and push on from one painful event to another while those less adventurous watch from the sideline. Why do we do it? To finish.

Some of us are more spiritually conditioned than others, thus they feel energetic enough to push themselves harder in the event of life in the hope of a 'crown' at the end...probably a bigger crown than most of us will get. But there are others like me who would be grateful enough just to make it over the finish line.

There are many definitions that attempt to describe the word 'endure' but the one that I relate to most closely is this...

Endure: (verb) to continue to exist

Believe it or not "continuing to exist" is a verb...meaning it is something that you "do". For me, existing is a hard ask. Take today for example, I wanted to kill myself; tears welled up in my eyes at the thought that I would have to endure one more day of my life. Doing nothing (ie. not killing myself), is a sign of endurance. I'd love to have other more encouraging signs but that's the most frequent one. For some, endurance is resisting the all too familiar temptations of the world, for others it's living with family who reject their faith in Jesus, but for me living is the thing I struggle with the most everyday.

Yes this blog is sounding a little depressing, but this is the grind of life. You either choose to read it or you don't, but I refuse to fluff it over and say that things are fine and dandy when the truth is that everyone everywhere is suffering in this life. My life is far from nice, despite the blessings that God continues to lavish on me and I know that this is the same for everyone else. But I aim to point out the rubbish of life and make it worth something.

I was thinking today that if we are going to participate in this race called 'life' then we need to know what is involved in the race. Those contemplating to enter into a triathlon are aware of what that race will require of them. They know that they firstly will have to swim (till they can't swim any more); and just as they come to the end of that leg they then have to run into transition with their focus fixed on the next leg, 'the cycle'. Some say "at least each part of your body gets a break at different times"...those people have never done a triathlon, so we won't hold their comments against them! You get halfway through the cycle leg and you feel like you're going to die, but you think to yourself "there was no point in me doing this event if I just give up cause it hurts, I knew it was going to hurt and I decided I'd push through it". So you do. You get back to the transition area and can hardly stand up when you're ushered out through the next gate to do 'the run' leg. At this stage death is a ligitimate option. But you're nearly finished...that is, if you call a 10km run 'nearly finished'! The energy, excitment and logic of participating in such an event no longer exists. The only thing that keeps you moving is the fact that there is a finish line out there somewhere. This is the point where you honestly can't go a step further; but can't possibly stop either. 

Does anyone else feel like they've been at that stage of the race 'all' their life? I don't ever remember, energy, excitment or logic in my choice to run this race nor in my entering into this race. I just seem to have found myself here. I thought to myself today, that half the problem with my struggle in life is that I think to myself "life shouldn't be this painful". Then I thought about the traithlon. When you choose to do a triathlon you choose to endure the gruelling events that it entails. I chose to enter this faith in Christ and my suffering is part of that gruelling event called 'life in Christ'. Maybe if I accept that this is how my life will always be and accept it as that final 'run leg' which ends at the finish line, then maybe the pain will just be one of those things that I choose to endure.

I refuse to stop getting back up. If that's not endurance then I don't know what is. For me, Jesus is the only reason I choose to exist, He is the reason I entered this race and He's the reason I race...He is the finish line. 

Quitting is not an option