Monday, October 30

Running Ahead, Not Running Away

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. --Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Each of us struggles with something--perhaps even multiple somethings. I struggle with math (among other things.) I don't particularly enjoy it, nor does it come easily to me. When I was in high school, my lack of mathematical prowess became a seemingly insurmountable source of frustration. At first I refused to admit how badly in need of help I was. I allowed myself to develop a mental block about the subject. I felt defeated just thinking about math.

When I enrolled in college and selected my major, I was more than a little concerned about how I was going to get through the math requirements. The first few courses weren't too bad. I had friends in the class to help me along--study buddies who had done better in math in high school and could help me catch up. Then came calculus. My former study buddies were just as lost as I had become. Some even switched their majors completely to avoid having to take any more math. There were times when I wanted to take that route as well.

Instead of letting my mental block and fear of math keep me from pursuing the goal I wanted (i.e. a bachelor's degree), I had to call in the reinforcements. I signed up with on-campus tutors and attended my professors' office hours to get homework help. My parents arranged to hire private tutors as well. Even if I had wanted to, I couldn't argue that I didn't have plenty of assistance available to me.

Slowly, my understanding of mathematical concepts improved. The mental block was being chipped away with each problem I answered correctly on a calculus quiz or midterm. Because I had chosen environmental science as a major, each and every one of my upper division courses had a math component to it. Every step of the way I had someone there cheering me on, helping build my confidence and reminding me that just because something didn't come naturally to me didn't mean that I was doomed to failure.

My life as a Christian has experienced similar transitions. The things that I used to struggle with so frequently are not nearly as intrusive anymore. As I have faced difficult situations in my life and been encouraged by others who have been through similar things, I find myself less likely to back down from the challenge. Life will never be free from struggles or problems--not even for Christians. To think otherwise is ridiculous. However, if I allow myself to become bogged down by the things that discourage me, I will certainly never reach the goal.

God has a path marked out for me. Sometimes I will struggle along, but God has provided a way for me to keep the goal in sight even when the going gets rough. There will be a day that is even more thrilling than seeing an "A" on my transcript next to a difficult, math-intense class. Now THAT will be incredible.

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