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. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Relate: I am not a runner. The reason I am not a runner is because I am a Christian and God is doing His work in me. I’m serious. No, really, I am. You see, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience… Yes, patience. Why run? Why hurry when walking will get you where you need to go when walking will get you there just as well? Running is simply proof that God has not yet developed much of that fruit in your life. So when I am walking down the street and someone out there running, I pray that God will get a better grip on the life of that ungodly sinner.
When I was a younger and less mature Christian, I did run a lot. I must confess that I did enjoy it quite a bit. As they say, sin is pleasurable for a season. I would always enjoy the start of my run but there would come a point when I would want to slow down my pace or even stop. There would come a point when the cramping sides, or the legs like jelly, or the difficulty of breathing (I used to have asthma before God healed me of that too) would start to seem overwhelming. So I would make a promise to myself. See that telephone pole up there? I will speed up until I hit that pole and then I’ll drop my pace. Lets just get to that pole first. Then, when I was almost on it, I would look for another pole further up. Let me just push a little bit harder until I hit that one. Then the next one. Then the next one. Before I knew it, I’m running along at a better clip than when I started and that cramp has worked its way right out of my body. If I was in a race it wouldn’t be poles but people. I would mark someone ahead of me and tell myself I’m gonna pass them. Once I did, there would be someone else further ahead selected as my next victim. I was one of those rare people who would usually do better in the second half of a race than at the start. Just thinking about it now makes me want to throw on my shorts and lace up those shoes. Thank goodness that part of my sinful life is in my past. Lets keep it there.
React: Often in this race of life, the sin that so easily entangles comes on us like a cramp. The temptation comes on us and everything inside screams stop running, or at the very least slow down. Stopping will not make that cramp go away. It will only make it worse. Slowing down will not make your legs feel any better. Quite the opposite. The only way to beat these struggles is to fix your mind on something else ahead. For me it was telephone poles or stop signs. I had to make sure, however, that I was constantly changing that goal because if I ever truly “hit” it then I would almost immediately stop running. In a race if I managed to fix my eyes on the right person I could have that goal ahead of me for miles. It would seem like every time I speed up a little more, he would do the same as though he heard my footsteps. These were always the best targets.
In real life, we have three options. We can give up and quit. We can fix our eyes on short term, ever shifting targets that will never truly satisfy when achieved, or we can fix our eyes on Jesus. He has gone before us. He has run this race perfectly pushing past every pain all the way to the finish line. The only surefire way to run and not give up as to keep our eyes as focused as lasers on Him.
Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You. When sin and the pains of life flare up and push me to quit, help me to lock my eyes on You. When short term worthless goals that I know will not truly satisfy threaten to distract my focus, help me to fix my eyes on You. You are the only thing worth running this race for. I do not run for the applause of that great cloud of witnesses. I do not run to avoid the dangers that come with not running. I do not run because it is a healthy and more fulfilling way to live. I run only for You. You are my reward and my reason and my life. You are the only thing worth focusing on. Help me to run as You ran that when I cross the finish line, You would receive the praise.