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“PRINCIPLES OF ENDURANCE – Small Tasks” – Jan 4

January 4, 2014

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.   Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:34

Tri-Bike TrainerThe mental weakness that has been exposed by my indoor cycling trainer has gotten me to thinking about endurance and some of the common principles between physical and spiritual endurance.  However, I came up with six principles that help me practice mental toughness in times of endurance both physical and spiritual.

1.      Control Your Emotions.

2.      Small Tasks

Physical:

How do you eat an elephant?… One mouthful at a time.

Endurance requires that we do not waste energy on those things outside of our control.

long_road-ahead

When running, I have found that it is not good to think about what mile 10 is going to feel like when mile 3 is not feeling so good.  I can usually make it to the next intersection or up the next rise or around the coming corner.  I don’t have control of much of what is down the road.  It might be pretty ugly but then again it might not.  I never really know.  Therefore, I try to run the road immediately in front of me.  I have confidence in my hydration and fueling strategy.  I know what heart rate will keep me in an aerobic zone.  All I have to do it keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually the finish line will appear.

Endurance is much easier to bear when you have companions working with you.

tour2

Riding 100 miles on a bicycle is daunting.  However, it is not too bad when all you have to do is stick to the wheel of the rider right in front of you.  I have been amazed at the difference between riding in a group and going solo.  There are clear drafting advantages that make riding in a group easier but I think the mental assistance is just as important.  The preoccupation of the brain with the dynamics of a group ride makes the miles slip by largely unnoticed in comparison to the mental battle of a solo ride.

Always count your own laps. Counting might seem trivial but keeping track of where you are and where you are going is critical for endurance.

20131001-235329My stomach always turns when I think about swimming over 40 laps.  I have tried counting down; I have tried counting up; neither has worked very well for me.  Therefore, I count laps in groups of five; I can’t count much beyond that anyways but my brain accepts 8 sets easier than it does 40 laps.  However, I always know how far I have to go.  I have a counter that straps to my index finger.  Although I play games with counting to keep my mind occupied, there is always the sure lap count on my index finger.  I am reminded of a swim story that I read:

At one California high school meet where there were no lap counters, nearly an entire heat of the girls’ 500 freestyle lost track of how many laps they had raced. Everyone in the heat except for the girl in last place assumed the girl in first place was keeping the right count. While everyone else was hanging on the wall thinking they were done with the race, the girl in last place—who knew exactly how many lengths of the pool she still needed to race—flip-turned. By the time the others in the heat figured out what was going on, the girl who had been in last place was nearly 25-yards ahead of everyone else. She finished the race in first place.  How to Count Swimming Laps

Spiritual:

Why do we worry about tomorrow?  Anxiety and worry makes spiritual endurance so much harder – it makes me want to give up.

For me, the sinful tendency of my worrying heart overflows during those sleepless, semi-conscious, nights with insomnia.  Just the other night, I overcame the temptation of anxiety by following the principles of endurance.  I awoke, a quick glance at the clock on my night stand told my brain that it should be asleep yet the cogs of worry had already started to turn.

1:30 AM and I worried about work – how to retain clients, why didn’t we get that last job, will we get the next one and how, how will a lawsuit play out, how should we respond, how do we respond to all the changes in our market, how can we keep everyone working, …what if , what if,…I have got to go to sleep.

2:30 AM and I worried about my kids – an upcoming NCFCA tournament, will my son be ready, will he make friends, what about my daughter’s friends, what about their hearts, do they love Jesus, are they saved, how to pay for college, will they have a happy life,…what if, what if,…I have got to go to sleep.

3:00 AM and I worried about my family – declining health, the lifestyle of extended family, their salvation, what about my retirement, where will we live if the wheels fall off, can I take care of all my responsibilities, how will I provide for my wife and kids, what will people say, surely they will gloat over my failures,… what if, what if,… I have got to go to sleep.

3:30 AM and I bemoaned my existence – the hours of fretting and worrying had successfully found the combination to a dark and brooding mental file that contains all the necessary supporting evidence of my failures and defeats.  The full force of a pessimistic mind had turned in on itself and shattered my will to endure in those dark hours before the sun rose.

By 3:45 AM, my anxious mind had swirled my desire to endure around a drain of defeat; whispering the glories of a hermit and a retreat to a protected life in a secluded warehouse,… I had had enough.  I roused myself from its semi-conscious state that was allowing my sinful heart of worrying to prey upon my undefended mind.

I prayed to regain the control of my mind.

I prayed the promises of God –He is in control of the future; I recalled how He took David from a cave to the throne; He was the one who blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He is the one who brings rain and drought.  He knows what I need.  He is my Father and He knows how to give good gifts.  I am so much more valuable to Him than the birds of the air.  My fretting about all that is beyond me showed me how little faith I have.  I cried out into the dark, “Lord, help me in my unbelief.  Take my worries and concerns.  I trust you with them.”

I prayed God’s presence.  I thanked Him for never leaving me or forsaking me.  He is my constant companion.  He is in me and I in Him.  I recalled that all that He calls me to do is to take up my cross and follow Him.  Even when I feel friendless, I am never alone.  I just have to set my mind on the things of His Spirit.  The joy of the Lord is the wheel set before me.  I just need to set my eyes upon it and follow.  I can do that.  He has promised to give me the strength to do that.  I know if I do that then these times of worry are going to slip by largely unnoticed if I will trust in Him alone.

I prayed my Ebenezer’s (1 Samuel 7:12).  I contentiously went to that gloriously bright mental file of all the victories that the Lord has given me.  I counted them and recalled how God has been faithful to me particularly in my defeats and failures.  I considered how far he has taken me.  His grace has carried me through so many laps.  His grace has always been sufficient.  I praised Him for is love and mercy.  I praised Him for how He has used me in all my weakness and unfaithfulness.  While Istill long for heaven, I thanked Him for the work that He has given be to yet accomplish through the power of His Spirit; I thanked Him that my hope is not in this world; I praised Him for the life in His presence that He has promised.  I run this race to that finish line and I am not done yet.

…and sometime during those prayers of praise… I slept, my will to endure restored through the power of the Spirit.

(I hope to post the other 3 principles in the coming days.)

PRAYER: O Lord, come, my fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing the praises of your grace and mercy; Father, I raise my Ebenezer; here by your great help I’ve come; and I hope, by your good pleasure to safely to arrive at home.  I am constrained daily as a debtor to your grace.  Let your goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.   Hear my praise O Lord (Come Thou Fount)   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Resources:
Extravagant Grace, Barbara R. Duguid
6 Navy SEAL Tips to Achieve Mental Strength

13 comments

  1. Really enjoyed this post. It is difficult for some believers to admit that they struggle often with worry but we all do and as you so rightly described, prayer is the weapon of warfare against worry and the fuel for endurance. Thanks so much for sharing.


  2. I lay awake many nights worrying…finances, parenting issues, salvation of my kids, am I a good enough mom…and on and on…
    I’m a worrier by nature. Thank you for the realness of your post and showing not only the worry but how you work through it.


  3. An incredibly rich and encouraging post. Great illustrations for endurance. Also, thanks again for opening your heart and letting me see that others get dragged off by waves of worry. God bless you in 2014.


  4. Reblogged this on Laying Foundations.


    • Thanks for the reblog. I appreciate it very much.
      God Bless!
      JD


      • You’re welcome. It was a good post.


  5. Thank you for sharing this reminder of how to get through the stresses that keep us awake unnecessarily. It’s so easy to forget that the Lord is always with us. He doesn’t want us to suffer.


  6. I enjoy reading your devotionals because you keep it real. Thank you for writing these!
    If you are not already doing so, I would like to encourage you to keep a “Praises/Answered Prayers” journal. I started my journal in June and it’s always amazing and comforting to read about the ways that God has helped me and carried me through difficult times.


    • I have started that. I have a prayer booklet where I list what I am praying for throughout the day. I leave a space, in expectation, to fill in how God will answer that pray. I agree that it is a wonderful way to be reminded of how God gets us through hard times.
      God Bless!
      JD


  7. These principles are an inspired blessing…I am in a place where this is most beneficial to me…thank you for being submissive to the Spirit which directs you to write them for the building up of the body…and the spirit.

    Not only am I nearing my first marathon, I am nearing a promised point of decision regarding my (former) work in the ministry, which I must now either recommence..or renounce. The decision weighs heavy upon me, perhaps heavier than it should, in light of what you have written. I have much to pray over…


    • Hey Nick – I prayed for you this morning. I understand how difficult these times of decision can be. God richly bless you in whichever directions He encourages you to pursue.
      God Bless!
      JD


  8. JD . . . thank you for this word of encouragement!


    • Bev – You are very welcome. I am glad that it was an encouragement to you.
      God Bless!
      JD



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