There is something about the last mile of a race that can make it the most difficult time of all. The anticipation of the finish is both exhilarating and hopefull... But that is balanced by an ever increasing mindfulness of the aches and pains sustained along the way. During the middle of the race we "calibrate" as it were our bodies to endure for the long haul but as the end approaches our mental discipline begins to break down. Suddenly we realize how desperately thirsy, sore, and miserable we feel... And the tantalizing hope of the finish only serves to enflame our agony as it looms ahead.
How often have runners collapsed just short of the finish line? Or lost wanderers died just before reaching shelter? Or students broke down just ahead of their degree? These events are saddening because they represent the difference between a great tragedy and a great victory. Indeed, it becomes an even greater tragedy when the margin between the two is thinner.
JESUS understood very well what it was going to be like as we all approach the last mile of our days. Like in a race, the last mile is full of signs of the approaching end. The crowds, the sounds and shouts from the sidelines, the markers on the pavement all declare that the race will soon be finished. It is a time of great excitement and anticipation, and like the Lord spoke, "And when you see these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemtpion draws nigh." ~Luke 21:28
But the Lord also knew how important it was to balance that sense of anticipation with patience and steady endurance. While describing to His disciples how difficult the last days would be He said, "...But he that endures to the end shall be saved."~Matthew 10:22. Also in Luke 21:19 JESUS speaking of the last days said, "In your patience possess your souls."
Like in a race, the signs of the end are meant to keep us from becoming complacent, and to press on in endurance. However, those same signs can become a snare when we become so fixated on them that we loose our pace and steady rhythm of motion. Faith is what gives us that steady rhythm in Christ, and as long as our eyes are fixed on Him instead of the blustering winds and waves of our time... We will remain steady. May the Lord direct all of our hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. ~2 Thes. 3:5