Over the past five years, I have renewed my love of running. On my outings, thoughts about our spiritual race come to me and I write them down when I return home. These lessons from being on the trail come to my mind whenever I face a new challenge in life. What we encounter along the way gives us so many opportunities to learn.
In his writings to the Church, the apostle Paul often compared the Christian life to running a race. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Why was running so often chosen over, say, jousting or chariot racing? For one thing, a long race requires patience. This life is not a sprint, nor is it a boxing match that lasts a few minutes before a new round begins. It is one continuous path that we run until we reach the finish line.
Along the way are many different challenges, but there is no winning in running unless you run the full course. Each runner is victorious the moment they step through the finish gate, no matter who crossed before or who is coming behind. You must run your own race. “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Galatians 6:4)
Another element to running a race is the full submission a runner must have to the maker of the course. There are no short-cuts. You can complain about your path ‘s difficulties, but it only slows down your progress and steals your enjoyment of the race. Some might decide to stop and turn aside when facing the grueling parts of a race, but they lose out in the process.
A runner never wants to have a DNF (did not finish) on their results. The only way to win is to endure through whatever the race holds. A runner must reach the point of compliance. Their will is no longer a factor in the run, and they are content to follow the path set before them. “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
Perhaps you have not yet started in this Christian race and you are instead consumed in the rat race of life, seeking for prosperity and happiness in temporary ways.
Through God’s Word, we learn how to run the only race that truly matters, that which gains us eternal life. All the success you may find in this world will not give you lasting joy. There is only one way to get that prize. Come hear the true gospel preached, repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Begin your new race. If you ‘re already in this contest, do not be distracted by the affluence of this world or grow discouraged by the obstacles. There is only one way to be victorious: run! “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)
– R Smith