The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox, C4FIC Board member.
“…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend…” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
A while back, I decided to try running a longer distance than I had ever done before. It was nowhere near a marathon, like some of you have done. But it felt like a marathon. I was OK the first half, and for most of the way back. But with about 2 miles to go, I wanted to quit so badly I could almost taste it. My lungs were fine and my legs weren’t that tired, but I was immersed in a colossal battle nonetheless. It was early in the morning, before folks were out working in their yards. If someone had been outside as I ran past, he might have wondered why this guy was shuffling along, saying, “Help me, Jesus … Oh Lord, please, help me.” When I wasn’t praying for help, I was trying to encourage myself with things like, “Come on, Mark, don’t quit. You can make it. Don’t quit.” I thought about what Jeff, a man in our church who competes in Iron Man Triathlons, had said at a recent Men’s Breakfast: “You can do a lot more than you think you can.” So, I kept running. I began to tell myself that I could run a half mile more before quitting. Then after that half mile, I would tell myself that I had at least one more half mile in me, and that I could do more than I thought I could.
But what I was really thinking about to the point that it became an obsession the last 2 miles … was the finish line, and the water bottle that awaited me there. I had placed a bottle of water and a towel at the top of my driveway. The scene replayed in my mind over and over: I saw myself finishing the race, and grabbing the water bottle. I tried to decide how much I would pour on my head and how much I would pour in my mouth. I wondered how good it would feel to not be running any more. I wondered if I would ever stop running. I wondered if I was still going in the right direction.
I think I was delirious.
When I finished the race, and held that coveted prize of 16 ounces of the best-tasting water I have ever put in my mouth, it was a sweet reward.
How much sweeter and how much more satisfying is the love of Christ.
In Ephesians, Paul said that he prayed for us that we would be able to “comprehend … the width and length and depth and height … (of) the love of Christ.” The word he used for comprehend in the Greek means to lay hold of something and make it your own. It means “to take” or “to seize,” as a drowning man would grab a rope that is thrown overboard to him. As much as my body craved that liquid refreshment when I was feeling dehydrated from a long run, my soul thirsts much more for a love that will never end. The Bible teaches that such a love is there for the taking. Not only that, but the love of Christ is “wide:” it reaches to the whole world. There is no tongue or tribe or race or nation that is not included in his love. The love of Christ is as long as eternity. The love of Christ is deep enough to overcome the darkest sin. The love of Christ is so high that you and I will never get over it.
That’s a prize worth running after.
Prayer: “Lord, build my physical and my spiritual stamina as I run for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Action: If you haven’t already done so, start a physical exercise program. Remember, one of the ways we ‘love our wives like Christ loved the church’ is by taking care of our bodies so we can be around a long time, Lord willing!