Runners on your mark, get set…Go!
The sound of the gun echoes in the air marking the beginning of the race.
As a runner you know that as soon as the sound of the gun rings in the air you spring from your starting position like a bullet. Nothing else matters but completing the race and completing it to the best of your ability. Your arms are pumping, your legs are quickly stretching for your next step as your feet pound on the track beneath you. Your heart races but your breathing remains steady. You pace yourself depending on how long the race is that is ahead of you.
If you are involved in a relay race you keep your eyes focused on your teammate in front of you. You have learned the art of passing the baton quickly, smoothly and efficiently. You never slow down until the baton has been passed successfully. If you are the final runner you never slow down until you have passed that finish line.
All the grueling hours of training are for this purpose. And as soon as this race is complete you train again to prepare for the next race. You strive to beat your last time, to accomplish the goal you have set for yourself, to achieve the medal.
If you are a spectator of the race the adrenal can almost be equal in excitement. You scream out the names of those you are cheering for. You may jump up and down and sometimes even try to run for them, yelling to them to run faster.
If they were to fall, you would encourage them to get up and not quit. And finally when they pass that finish line you scream with delight as if you were the one that actually completed the race.
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 & 25 (NLT)
We all get tired. We all may get weary of doing the same thing and not seeing results in life. For example have you been praying about something and see no change? Perhaps it is a new job, a loved one to get saved, a healing in your body. But we cannot give up in this race we run.
Like an athlete who trains, exercises, eats right, and gets plenty of rest you must also continue exercising in your spiritual life so you can live the life of victory in Christ. Your physical body doesn’t get prepared for a race by eating junk food, staying up all night and never training.
Our spiritual walk works in the same manner. We need to spend time with our Lord, time in prayer, time in reading His word. And even time in training, which often includes trials; trials that cause us to use our faith, our patience, our trust in him. Those trials can include the very things you are praying about. But as we believe, sometimes regardless of what we see, we grow in grace. And often times it is necessary to declare the word of God. It is not just our manual for a Christian life, but God’s spoken words of hope and peace and direction.
Can you imagine someone trying to win a medal in a weight lifting competition and never picking up a weight? Or a person trying to compete in a soccer tournament and never understanding the rules? Or perhaps trying to win in a tennis match but never taking the time to learn how to swing the racket? To be successful in a sport one must practice, grow in knowledge, dedication and commitment.
How much more important is our walk as a believer of the Lord? It is like the preface of a book. But instead of a book our life is the preface of our eternity.
Why do we think we can lazily sit around, compromise in areas of life that bring destruction, ignore God altogether and then when heartache approaches blame him? If we don’t spend time praying, have no clue what the Bible says (except perhaps a story or two) but do not understand how to put God’s word into action we can continue to remain defeated. It’s not that those things are magical. But they are the tools we have available so we can become overcomers. It is the same principle we use to succeed in sports.
“They will appear to have a godly life, but will not let its power change them…” 2 Timothy 3:5a (GWT)
There is so much more for believers. God doesn’t want to simply give us a list of dos and don’ts. Relationship with him goes so much further. He wants us to enjoy our lives. He promises in John 10:10 that he has come to give us an abundant life, more than we thought we even wanted. I’m not talking about things. I’m talking about a life so full of his presence and his joy and his purpose that we share without realizing it because it seeps out of our lives.
The author of Hebrews states that “we must consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.” (GWT) He continues by stating that we must not give up.
Like the people in the stands we need to cheer each other on as we walk in this life. We need to let them know that they can overcome. Pray for them to not give up. Encourage them when they feel frustrated. Remind them that there is hope in this life. Remind them that there is power in the Word of God and power in prayer.
Remember the people of faith that have gone on before us? They are like the ones who have already run the first leg, the second leg and the third leg of the relay race. They learned through the practice of trials and the practice of using prayer and declaring the Word of the Lord to hand off the baton successfully.
And now they sit in the stands cheering us, the 4th and final leg of the race, to RUN. Run with patience. Run with endurance. Do not give up.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)
One day we may be able to say as Paul did, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Be encouraged. God bless.