Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4)

The first Ugandan Water Project 5K was a great success! It was a beautiful spring day as over 150 runners came out (adults and kids) and joined us. Some friends came from near and far, and some took up running for a day just to help us raise funds and awareness for a great cause! Jesse Sprinkle and I did some live African music from our collaborative CD Three Worlds, and then put down our guitars and drums to run in the race.

I ran a bit out of my league as I place 5th overall! I’d been training all winter for not only this 5K, but the entire 5K racing season. Even my 20-week pregnant wife, Heidi Jo, ran the race, beating a substantial portion of the field of runners! If there was a category for “pregnant women with five kids” she definitely would have gotten first!

My wife and I took up running a few years ago, and it has been an incredible blessing in our lives, not only for health reasons, but spiritual ones. I’ve found running to have many spiritual parallels, as the Bible often uses running analogies to describe the faith (Hebrews 12:1-3, 1 Corinthians 9:24). One thing that running requires more than anything, just like life and our walk with the Lord, is endurance. There are times in every race when it hurts, when you’re alone, and when it’s boring, and the only thing you can do is keep going, keeping your eyes on the finish line.

Likewise, there are times when this Christian life is not full of fireworks. The conference is over, the mountaintop experience fades, the trial comes, the dry season is upon us…and yet Christ says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.”

It is this little word “remain” that has gotten me through the most difficult seasons of my life. There have been times when I wished God would say more, but He whispers the simple and profound command, “Remain.” And somehow, by His grace, I have outlasted all my enemies and found victory in my walk with the Lord over all things. I remember in college, I endured an awful time of darkness, depression, and discouragement. I fasted for three days, seeking the breakthrough, and when God finally spoke, He said, “Remain.”

This I have done since my youth, and God has led me to amazing places in my journey as I’ve just obeyed this simple little command. I’ve seen a lot of “on fire” people come and go during my days, but those who learn the great secret of the kingdom called perseverance will know the greatest joys of the faith.

The “Father of Modern Missions,” William Carey, who went to India in the 1700’s, faced many trials and obstacles, but eventually saw God do great things. At the end of his life, he told his secret: “I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.”

Remember, the life that God rewards is not the one to whom He can say, “Well done, for thou wast on fire.” It is the one to whom He can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). Just remain in Him.

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