Last Week

Last week, we discovered that to grow in patience, we must train in patience under the proper nutritional and recovery conditions – doing spiritual disciplines such as worshipping together in small groups, having private prayer time, and engaging in Scripture. These investments take time, as God does His best work while we wait. It’s all training…and in this case…training in patience.

Running with a rock

We’ve all gotten a rock or something else in our shoe or boot that, over time, becomes an impediment. We may ignore it initially, thinking it’ll roll to a spot where it can’t be felt. But it doesn’t. And instead of doing the intelligent thing, which is taking the time to stop, take off the shoe, and remove the impediment, we just keep going.

Or that’s just me. I hope that’s not just me. Say that’s not just me!

I did this on a long run, and it was a small, tiny, eensy teensy stone. It couldn’t cause that much of an impediment to my run, I thought two miles into a 13-mile run. But about mile 6, a spot on my foot began to get rather tender. I can keep going, I thought! It’s not a big deal.

About mile 8, it started to become a big deal. The stone had moved for a time and was somewhere in my shoe, but not in the same spot. But it would always find its way back to the one place that was irritated…like there was a stone magnet in my foot, calling to the stone, saying.

“Come to me and irritate me right here!”

It just kept showing back up in the same spot. And I kept stubbornly pushing forward. Until I couldn’t…at least normally couldn’t. At about mile 10, I started running differently on that leg because of the soreness in my foot. That little stone had become an encumbrance to me, an impediment, a hindrance.

I declared war on all stones at that point. Yet, I still kept going.

I’ll spare you the rest of the details. The bottom line? I finished the run with a significantly irritated spot on my foot and a knee that throbbed because I ran awkwardly due to the encumbrance in my shoe, otherwise known as…

That tiny eensy teensy stone.

Lay aside

The writer of Hebrews has something to say about those tiny, eensy, teensy stones.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Okay, so it’s not precisely about tiny eensy teensy stones, but the idea is there! The stone in my shoe, which initially seemed insignificant, eventually became an encumbrance, a hindrance, an impediment to running at my best. In fact, closer to the end of the run, I was probably running at my worst. I wouldn’t finish at my best.

While the author mentions sin directly, which is certainly a hindrance, an encumbrance is anything (even if inherently good) that will keep you from training well. It’s anything that impedes, hinders, and encumbers us.

Yes, that can be a sin, but present and past. Think about how often Satan likes to bring up past sins. You can’t run well while holding onto baggage, can you? Running with extra weight you can’t and shouldn’t carry is hard. In fact, hanging on to any baggage like that from the past, sin or not, becomes an encumbrance. God might be ready to move you forward, but you still hold the past. It might be that He can’t do what you want Him to do until you let go.

And what about the future? You can’t train effectively either if you’re filled with anxiety about the future. Anxiety comes when we try to control things we have no control over. And none of us has control over tomorrow. All we know is today.

Training problems happen when we let the encumbrances of the past and the unknown future shackle us today. We miss the power of now, the power of today.

What is God doing now?

When I’m waiting, sometimes I ask that question right there. What’s God doing right now? I will follow up with another question that helps. How can I join Him in what He’s doing right now? Both questions can minimize those impediments and help us refocus on today. So, the challenge this week is this:

Remember the power of today.

We vastly underestimate the power of today when we give away to our past or the unknown future, both of which hinder us. Don’t let things like these, or tiny eensy teensy rocks, impede your training. Train in patience!

You are loved!