“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV)
We have come to the end of the fast but we are only at the beginning of the year. It’s not just about how you start but certainly how you finish.
In a cross country race, everyone starts together, everyone looks strong and it looks like anyone can win it. However as they cover more of a distance and as the terrain changes and crucially depending on their training, many will slow down, some can maintain the speed at which they started with and few will speed up. This fast is part of your training for the whole year, the full duration of the race. How you finish is so important, but the last stretch is the hardest part.
In the last stretch, it is mind over matter. You can do it, but can you believe that you have done it. Do you visualise yourself getting to the end of the year being more on fire than you were before the calendar reset to 1st January? Finishing the year strong is the goal, that's why we prepare ourselves spiritually. Jesus, God Himself, needed to fast for 40 days and 40 nights to discipline His flesh. The Bible tells us that our flesh wars against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). In the final stretch, The Bible says that the devil came to Jesus and tried to tempt Him to break early, by taunting Him to prove that He was the Son of God by turning stones into bread. All of this was happening whilst Jesus was hungry, in other words, when His flesh was weak. Yet His Spirit man stretched him to not succumb. However, suppose Jesus did only 40 days and no nights? Imagine if Jesus fasted for 39 days and 39 nights – it wouldn’t have been the same if he did not push through the final stretch. He wouldn’t have come out on top.
Today, I want to encourage anyone who has been fasting to stay strong and fight your flesh each day at a time. Just how you have practised disciplining your flesh during this 21-day fast, be sure to keep that discipline day by day throughout the year. When you feel weak spiritually mid-year, don’t wait for a corporate fast - do it on your own. Jesus fasted alone so He could be ready for His personal mission ahead. This year, will you challenge yourself to fast, on your own accord, when you are feeling spiritually weak? Let us push all the way through, even to the final stretch of the year so that we finish strong!
Further Study: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Hebrews 12:1-13, Isaiah 40:29-31