January is famous for resolutions; February for forgotten resolutions. The calendar between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day lies littered with broken promises, unused gym memberships, and quite a few Twinkie wrappers.
What happened? The going got tough, and the resolve ran out. Starting is easier than finishing. But it is only at the finish line that medals are awarded. When resolve runs low, we miss rewards and that’s not limited to weight loss. It’s a spiritual challenge as well. New Christians are famous for enthusiasm; older ones are sometimes infamous for apathy.
Jesus told of 10 bridesmaids waiting for the coming of the groom so the wedding could begin. He lingered longer than they expected and 5 of the young ladies found their lamps running low on oil. While they were gone to buy more, the groom came and they missed the wedding.
Jesus’ message is clear. He’s coming back, but we don’t know when. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour,” he says (Matthew 25:13). Our challenge is to stay strong however long the night.
But how? Some people keep resolutions. Some stay faithful through a long life of service. What’s their secret?
It’s fuel! My brother and I once decided to hike 20 miles in one day on the Appalachian Trail. Previously, our longest day had been 12 miles, so we decided to nearly double that. No, that’s not logical but that never stopped us before.
We started early, lugging 35-pound packs over steep grades, resolved to reach our goal. By 5:30 p.m., we had covered 15 miles when we stopped at a highway crossing for a break. We were both chafed, blistered, and tired. It would have been easy to quit. So I did! I announced, “I’m done!”
Fortunately, Roxy insisted I could finish. Fortunately, I had fuel. After some Gatorade and a quarter pound of trail mix, I felt better. At 6:00 we shouldered packs and set out again. At 9:40, by the dim glow of two tiny flashlights, we crossed the French Broad River into Hot Springs, NC – 20 miles from our starting point!
You can finish! But you need fuel. Christ is our “living bread - If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51). Eat! Read! Go to church! Take advantage of Bible classes. You need all the fuel you can find.