Hebrews 12:1 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.
Well this past weekend I ran my first 5K. It was quite a thrilling experience, even more so than I would have originally imagined. I began running over the past summer and I really didn’t have a strong desire to run in races. I had begun running for an entirely different reason to begin with, but I will get to more on that later on. So, when a friend had asked me about an opportunity to run in a local race, which went through the redwoods and alongside the gorgeous Smith River, something began to stir inside me. I knew I had been running long enough and was prepared. So I decided it might be a fun challenge, and I enlisted one of my best friends to do the run with me. It was a first for both of us, so I knew it would be fun and memorable experience.
There was great comradery amongst all of the participants. When the time neared for the race to begin, all the runners started out in a pack. Then a countdown began and everyone took off running. Within minutes the pack of runners began to thin out as all the runners dispersed, striving at their own pace to complete the race. My friend and I had decided to stick together and run at a pace which was good for both of us. It was fun to have a running partner to spur each other on and to encourage one another to keep going and to do our best. My friend and I completed the race in 33 minutes. For our first race, we were rather thrilled with our time and our ability to endure without stopping. It was an overall great experience and I must say that I’m sure there will be other races for me in my future.
Just as you can’t pick up and run a race without some sort of training. It is the same in our spiritual life. We are to exercise our faith as if running a race. I started running last summer mainly as a physical discipline, which in turn helped me to get better at my spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are essential if we are to be in a vibrant and healthy relationship with our Savior. We are to become students of the word and enjoy daily communion with God.
We all know that keeping a consistent and vibrant walk with God is not always easy. Many oppositions come against us that try to rob us of our joy, steal our peace and make us lethargic and sleepy in our faith. To me running has become my outward exercise of the inward battle we all face as believers. Running is a physically demanding sport. It is pushing myself to do something that is not always easy or pleasurable.
It is the same in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes it gets difficult, the terrain can be rough and bumpy, but we must diligently strive to follow Christ wholeheartedly. We are in a battle. The enemy is looking to seek, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He wants us to become discouraged, disillusioned and to give up. To stay strong and fit for this race of life, we are to diligently exercise our faith as if running in a race.
We train with purpose in mind. What is our purpose? To be seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and to be seeking out others God has placed on our path who are still lost and wandering. In running it also helps to keep your focus. What should our focus be on? Our focus should always be on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). There so many distractions to take our eyes off God and focus on our circumstances, but if we diligently make an effort, we are able to train ourselves to continually bring our focus back to God. We run our spiritual race with the end goal in mind. What is that goal? It is to glorify our Savior and spend eternity with Him.
And this is our spiritual exercise. We are told 1 Peter 1:5-8 . . . to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, the will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Father God help us to persevere in our daily race of faith. Help us to train with diligence and to keep our focus on you. Thank you that you can help us to reach the goal and to win the prize which is our heavenly call in Christ Jesus! To you be all the glory, forever and ever. AMEN
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 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 a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.