I fancy myself a runner. There’s something about putting in some headphones and taking off down the street that allows me to clear my head and really focus for a few minutes. I am of course saying that my head is clear because I can’t focus on anything except for breathing and staying conscious. In some seasons I excel. I run regularly and log a fair amount of miles. In other seasons I am satisfied to just fancy myself a runner. I log no miles and am satisfied to just own a cool pair of running shoes.
There is one principle that I have come to accept as truth in my running experience. The last half mile is always the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, the first mile is also a challenge but never have I experienced doubt, discouragement, and a lack of motivation like I have in the last half mile of a run. The oddest part of this principle is that it doesn’t seem to matter how far I run. If I run 2 miles, 5 miles, or 3 miles, it’s the last half mile that seems to shake me. I think the reason for this is that I tend to get focused on what I have already done and think, “That’s probably good enough for the day.” In order to combat this, I taught myself a phrase, “The home stretch is when we rally.” Since then, I have consistently run my last mile, especially the last half, faster than I run the first one. This is something that runners call a “negative split.” It’s basically the goal of distance running.
I started thinking about this yesterday as it relates to my life. I wonder how often I have failed in the last half mile. How many times have I been close to a major move of God only to quit in the home stretch? Many people think that the first step is the hardest, but I would submit the last few as at least equal competition. Think about it, Jesus spent 30 years as a man preparing for ministry. When he was baptized and ready to “officially begin” His public ministry, that’s when Satan tempted him.
As we get closer to accomplishing something for the kingdom we become a larger threat to the enemy and, conveniently for him, the stakes are higher for us and those who are following us. If he can make us fail or convince us to walk away in the last half mile it does significantly more damage than if we had never started. So, my encouragement for today is this, rally in the last half mile. As you get closer to the goal focus in on what you are setting out to accomplish and run with endurance the race marked out for you. You may stumble, you may get tired, you may have to crawl to get there, but the last half mile is when we rally. You can do this! There is a great harvest on the other side.