Here’s a fun fact about me: I love to work out. I don’t know if it’s because my parents had me on every type of court or field imaginable from the time I could walk or if it’s my competitive nature, but for some reason being active and exercising has always been a priority in my life. But here’s another fun fact. I hate to run. Do I do it? Yes, and pretty often at that because typically it comes with a normal workout regimen. Does that mean that I enjoy it? More often than not, no. Not one bit. I always thought that if I kept doing it I would eventually become one of those people who just absolutely loved to run (Apparently there’s this thing called a runner’s high? Yeah, haven’t found that yet). But nope, it’s just never happened for me. Over the years I finally realized why I’ve never truly loved running…
I’m bad at it.
Simple as that. I’m not fast. The thought of running more than 4 miles seems absolutely insane to me. And did I mention that I’m slow as Christmas? The reality is that my lack of ability takes the joy out of running for me. The interesting thing about it though, is that despite the difficulty, pain and frustration running tends to bring me, I have never stopped.
Why? That seems silly doesn’t it? I don’t enjoy it and I’m bad at it, so why keep going? Why continue to make it part of my routine?
Because it’s good for me. Because it conditions me. Because I know it is helping me meet a goal…to get somewhere I know I need to be. It’s tough, but my relationship with running has been relentless (rəˈlen(t)ləs/ adjective/ oppressively constant; incessant). And over the past year and a half, my relationship with the Lord has been pretty comparable to my relationship with running.
I think sometimes we hear the word relentless and think of glory, glamor and success. Like a Nike commercial…we see the sweat and hear the heavy breathing, but there’s something about those commercials that make it all seem so easy. You don’t feel the burning in their muscles or the shortness of breath begging them to let up and give in. How often do we view our spiritual lives that way? How often do we look at believers around us and assume that because they never miss a church service and raise their hands during worship that their walk with the Lord is a walk in the park? Let me be vulnerable with you…over the past 18 months, my relationship with Jesus has felt a lot more like a never-ending sprint than a casual stroll. Exhausting. Painful. Uncomfortable, and at times discouraging. My pursuit of Him has been relentless, but that doesn’t mean it has been glamorous.
Now don’t get me wrong…following Jesus is sweet, and rewarding, and so so worth it. It is the only way to live. But so often we as Christians leave out the ugly when we talk about our relationship with God. We leave out the pain of giving something up that we know wasn’t in His will for our lives. We leave out how exhausting it can be to pray about something for weeks or months and feel like you’re never being heard. We leave out the discouragement that comes when you take a step of faith just to be met with adversity.
We mask the reality behind what it truly means to relentlessly be after Him….to fight to discern His will when faced with so many paths. To strain to hear His voice when you’re tempted by so many others. To battle to put Him first when so many things could so easily take His place. All of these are things I’ve faced, especially over the past year or so, and I would imagine that if you’re reading this, you’ve faced similar trials and situations.
I also know that if you’ve been there, you’ve seen the bright side of relentlessness. You’ve seen prayers answered, temptations overcome and idols broken down. You’ve heard His voice and discerned His will, because when we are relentlessly pursuing Him (and even when we aren’t) He is relentlessly pursuing us—faithfully fighting for us and picking us up when our sinful nature causes us to fall. His relentless love took him to a lowly death on a cross for our sins. Doesn’t it make sense that pursuing Him relentlessly would bang us up and bruise us at times? And isn’t it encouraging to know that He makes it worth it?
“Tearing through the veil of darkness
Breaking every chain, You set us free
Fighting for the furthest heart You gave
Your life for all to see.”
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
-Hebrews 10:39 ESV