Thursday, August 25, 2011
Have you ever run a race? Think of the way running feels. I imagine this conjures up a variety of images and feelings. On one hand running is exhilarating, exciting, freeing, dare I say fun? On the other hand its hard work, dirty and tiring.
We run for all sorts of reasons. We run for sport, exercise, speed, to get somewhere fast, and even to get away. Regardless of why we run we usually have a purpose and a goal in running.
There are several references to running the race in the New Testament. Most of us are probably familiar with the concept of running the race as a comparison to Christian living. I've always liked this analogy because as a cross country runner in high school, it's such a clear depiction of the Christian life for me. Preparation for a race takes daily effort, perseverance and endurance. Our faith walk could also be called an endurance run.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says, "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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
Hebrews 12:1-3 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
When I read these verse I'm reminded of my cross country training; daily running 5 to 7 miles, calisthenic exercises and lifting weights to strengthen muscles to prepare for our weekly races. I'm reminded of the importance of hydrating all day long before practice and races, of stretching before and after running, of warm ups and cool downs. I'm reminded of being part of a team that rooted for and encouraged each other. I'm reminded of the sense of triumph and accomplishment at crossing the finishing line. I'm reminded of the pride in knowing you ran a good race and finished strong.
Our Christian life walk is so similar to this. It takes daily practice and perseverance. Running is hard. Even for a seasoned runner it can be work. But when we work at it daily by being in the Word and spending time in prayer we develop, tone and strengthen our muscles and that makes us and our run stronger. We are a part of a team of believers and the fellowship and encouragement of our teammates is vital to our run as well. We have a finish line to cross and a finish line to encourage others to cross.
My encouragement to you today is to run a good race with Jesus as your focus and an eternal goal set before you.
God's blessings upon you.