Day 6

December 3

December 3

2 Timothy 4:6-8

6 As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Training Creates Endurance

by Kelly R. Ylitalo, Ph.D.

Paul paints an image of a footrace, shortly before his death, as a metaphor for the Christian life. Runners train, each day, continuing to move forward with incremental progress, seemingly small in the moment but ultimately pushing them toward their end goal. It is easy to give up, become distracted, or put off the training due to competing demands of daily life. But runners know that training creates endurance, and endurance prepares them for the race to come and the hope of a finish line.

Our Christian life is a marathon, too. It is the path set before us that we are called to run with perseverance, focusing on Jesus at the finish line. Each day in the journey is an opportunity to advance God’s work – love – with a pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith. It is easy to give up or allow distractions to derail us from our journey, but God asks us to pursue love and self-discipline, both of which have value for our present life and for our life to come with Christ.

The last 18 months of a global pandemic have been marked by sustained uncertainty, and we are weary and exhausted at this point in the race. I find myself questioning my purpose and my work as an epidemiologist. I have big questions, like Is my work meaningful? and What is my purpose here? Despite significant noise and fear all around us, our task remains the same: love God with all our heart, mind, and soul; and our neighbors as ourselves. On days when hope seems far away, God reminds me of His faithfulness, gently nudging me along my journey with the encouragement to take the next “right” step forward.

Friends, how will you love God and love others today? What is your next right decision today?

God, we confess that we are weary. Help us stay in the race and make the next right decision, one small step forward, seemingly incremental in the moment, but ultimately training us in faithfulness and godliness. Even when the path seems uncertain or the race too long, help us have hope in You, the living God. So that like Paul, we can reflect on a race well run, and stand before You one day to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

Learn More About Our Guest Writer

Kelly R. Ylitalo, Ph.D.Kelly R. Ylitalo, Ph.D.

Kelly R. Ylitalo, Ph.D., combines high-level, data-driven research with practical community partnerships that address upstream health issues. Dr. Ylitalo is an assistant professor of epidemiology in Baylor’s Department of Public Health within the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. Her research interests include physical functioning, obesity, and physical activity. Specifically, she is interested in physical functioning trajectories during the mid-life and older adult years, and how behaviors like physical activity throughout the life course can facilitate healthy aging trajectories and prevent disability. Dr. Ylitalo applies quantitative statistical methods to longitudinal cohort studies and complex survey samples.

Dr. Ylitalo’s research and teaching exemplify the impact Baylor can have through Illuminate’s Health academic initiative, using scholarly pursuits to improve the lives of those within our communities, while also contributing in significant ways to academic research and discovery. Since moving to Waco in 2013, Dr. Ylitalo has developed several local community-based research partnerships that focus on health-promoting behaviors, such as physical activity and healthy eating, to understand the health of individuals and communities.