06 Aug Run Your Race
Olympic season is here! Every four years we get to admire the grit, determination and sacrifice of thousands of athletes from all over the world as they go for the gold. These men and women have spent thousands of hours perfecting their skills to become the best in the world in their respective sports.
As observers, we sit comfortably in front of the television and cheer for our fellow countrymen to medal. We may not know these individuals personally, but we share a common bond of citizenship and take pride in their achievements as if they are our own.
If you are reading this today, my guess is that you are not competing in the Olympics in Rio (2020 anyone?). However, make no mistake about it; you are competing daily in the Olympics of life. Like a swimmer, you are fighting to stay afloat and to keep your head above water. Like a gymnast, you are balancing on the beam of hectic schedules and pending deadlines all while doing backflips to please everyone around you. And yes, like a track and field star, you are running a race to win the ultimate medal of eternal life.
In Scripture, races are often used as a metaphor with the prize being eternal life. Paul, in particular, frequently referred to races in his writings. Below are a few things we learn in Scripture:
– In a race, all the runners compete but only one receives the prize, so we have to run in such a way as to win the prize (1 Cor 9:24). We have to train in order to compete in the race (1 Cor 9:25). In order to win, we have to stay disciplined and diligent as we “train” by reading the Word, praying and fasting. Just as we have to exercise to stay in physical shape, we have to work at staying in spiritual shape.
– We have to throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us and run the race marked out for us (Heb 12:1). We each have our own race complete with our own individual obstacles, temptations and troubles. We cannot let those things get in our way. We have to run our race and jump over the hurdles we find in our path.
– After we have diligently run the race, we can be content in knowing that we have “fought a good fight” and that we have “kept the faith.” Towards the end of Paul’s life he was content in knowing that he had finished his race (2 Tim 4:7). He was ready to get his crown. Like Paul, we have to be confident of the race we have run and be ready to put on our crown after we cross the finish line.