My kids love to play a game on Michelle’s iPhone called Subway Surfers. Playing the game is pretty straightforward. You are a spray can-wielding teenager who’s been caught by a policeman, running to escape his arrest. Every so often, a hurdle gets in the way and you need to either jump over it or slide underneath it. Then there are subway cars that try to run you down, as well as various other obstacles that get in the way. The goal is to escape the clutches of the cop, collect coins, and eventually get to some intended destination (I’ve yet to see what that is. Yes, I’ve played it).
If you think about it, the Christian life is somewhat similar. (I don’t want to relegate the Christian life to the likes of an iPhone game, but I think the illustration is helpful.) We are in a race, Paul says (1 Corinthians 9:24), all seeking for the prize. We “run” through this life with the goal of arriving at our intended destination: Heaven, with Christ. Paul then says, “So run that you may obtain [the prize].” In other words, live this life like there’s no other life to be lived. Fix your eyes on Jesus, “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and…run with endurance the race that is set before [you]” (Hebrews 12:1). There must be unwavering determination in us to “grab hold” of Heaven.
Selah, and Amen.
But what about all those obstacles? The teenager in the game needs to be on his toes because if he isn’t, he’s going to get tripped up and captured by the cop. I’m not going where you think I am. Sure, Satan is after us. Sin and the world are after us. We need to be careful that we don’t get ensnared by these things! But, I’m thinking about those things in life that “pop up” – that get in our way, that are seeming “distractions” that are hindering us from running our race. I’m thinking about those inconvenient circumstances that keep from getting to “where God wants us to be.”
I’m in a season of life right now where I need to make several decisions. To some people these would be small decisions – but to me, I feel like if I make the wrong move, that subway car is going to run me down. But, here’s the thing I too easily forget: the decision that lies before me is not outside of God’s sovereign rule. He called me to be His son with the determination of bringing me to glory (Romans 8:29-30). Though the decisions that I must make all have consequences, God will use these decisions – these “hurdles” to leap, to accomplish His sovereign purposes in my life. I know this to be true because God works all things together for the good of His beloved children (Romans 8:28). ALL things!
If you are in the same season that I am, fear not. Seek His face, seek godly counsel, be patient, trust Him. But do these things with this wisdom in mind: “The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.” That hurdle, though it might trip you up, was placed there by God Himself to work in you a deeper trust toward Him that will not waver with each new season. With God, there are no 50/50s. With us there is, to be sure, but with God it is either 100% or 0%. He has declared the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) and His children are not the unfortunate victims of happenstance. In fact, our prayers and choices bring about God’s purposes because He has willed them to do so. And if we are in this for the long haul (though some hurdles seem impossible to cross!), we will one day turn back and see how God’s mighty hand was powerfully present in every “delay and detour.”
The best part is, though we are weary from the race at times, God’s faithfulness shines ever brighter with each new season and with every hurdle we cross, for “all the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies” (Psalm 25:10).
Thank God that He is in the hurdles!
 John Piper, Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure