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Spiritual Aerobics

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
–Hebrews 12:1

When Shelley Mann was six, her family was not sure she would ever walk again. She had contracted polio, spending weeks in the hospital, and the disease had left her right leg paralyzed. With intensive therapy, Shelley eventually learned to walk with a limp. But she was determined to build up her leg strength and get rid of her limp. So she kept trying out different sports, hoping to find some activity she could excel at. Discouraged, she told her dad, “I’m just no good.”

But Shelley did not give up. At age ten, she tried swimming. She quickly found she was more agile in the water than on land. Her limp did not matter in the pool. She began competing in races, where she excelled in every kind of stroke. By age fourteen, she had won a national championship. At eighteen, she became a gold medalist at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

Shelley Mann had a handicap that would be enough for most of us to throw in the towel. But not Shelley–she was a finisher because she possessed that invaluable quality of endurance. And it is that same quality of endurance that the Bible says we must possess if we are going to win in the Christian life. Hebrews 12:1 compares the Christian life to a race: “Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

The writer of Hebrews was not talking about a sprint; he was talking about a marathon. And if you are going to win a marathon, you have to have endurance. A marathon runner has to endure in spite of external circumstances such as inclement weather, headwinds, and uneven terrain. But he also has to power through internal challenges: fatigue, pain, discouragement.

It is the same way in the Christian life. If we are going to finish the race, we have to have endurance in spite of the circumstances around us or within us.

Do you know people who have lost their enthusiasm for Christ in their later years? They seem to be strong in the faith, but then they fall into sin and destroy their witness for Christ. Or maybe you yourself have allowed temptation or just the cares of everyday life to extinguish the passion you once had for Christ. How do you finish strong in the Christian life? You have to develop endurance.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Spiritual Aerobics” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Nancy Sorrells, “1956 Olympic Gold Medalist Buried in Thornrose,” The News Leader, August 19, 2016,

Jayson Casper, “The Forgotten Final Resting Place of William Borden,” Christianity Today, February 24, 2017,

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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