I love to run! There is something special about being outdoors, the scenery of the mountains or farm lands, pushing your body beyond what you think it can do, running alone or with others or a crowd, and then the exhilarating rush of accomplishment!
Kingsport, TN, hosts an annual race that has intimidated me due to its Saturday, 9:58 p.m. start time. I have never run in a race beyond 7:00 p.m. and the thought of its effect upon my “Sunday life” left me a bit concerned. I missed it last year, but had set my sights on conquering this Crazy 8s 8K this time around! Wow! What a race! 2,287 participants lined up on Ft. Henry Drive for the start. After prayer that included the gospel and ended with a note of thanks for Christ’s death on the cross as well as a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, it was time for the start! Obviously, it is a bit slow for the wave of runners to get up to speed, but as we turned the corner onto Eastman Road, we were well up to our pace. All the way, folks were gathered on the sidewalks to watch, cheer, hold up signs, spray us with water, and give us a boosts of mental energy. The highlight was finishing the race by entering J. Fred Johnson Stadium with the festive fanfare of multiplied cheers of encouragement. What a run!
Scripture reminds us that the Christian life is like running a race:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
May I encourage all believers today in the Christian race to:
- “Stay the course” – Be faithful in your daily spiritual preparation of the Word, prayer, memorization, memorization, and the use of 1 John 1:9.
- Don’t run aimlessly – Just as you choose the races to run, have a plan and set goals for your spiritual growth. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
- Exercise self-control – Begin your day in surrender to Christ. Don’t listen to yourself . . . preach the Truth to yourself . . . and do it all day! (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
- Be encouraged by all who have finished – Just when you think you will not make it through another day, look to the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10), our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) as well as all who have finished well. (Hebrews 12:1; Isaiah 40:31)
- Edify and encourage other runners — This race is an eternal one with an eternal reward. We are running the best race. Let’s help the fallen, encourage the weak, hand them a cup of water, and run alongside at times.
- Keep pressing on toward the goal – We are to be forward-looking believers. In a race, I may look back to see who’s behind me for safety sake as I move right or left in the road, but my mind is not on the start line but the finish line.
- Finish well – As I turned right onto Indian Drive and up the hill for the stadium, I could hear the crowd cheering, the music playing, Tom Taylor making comments over the PA system, and it gave me a boost of energy to quicken my pace. For a runner, coming into that stadium and running to the 50 yard line with folks on both sides cheering; that was one awesome entrance!! I’ve got tears in my eyes right now thinking about it. I can only imagine what Heaven will be like with the saints of God praising, singing, worshipping, enthralled in the presence of Christ, and knowing . . . we are finally Home!
As I said earlier, we are running the best race now with the Bema as the finish line and Christ the Perfect Judge to hand out the rewards. In the meantime, let’s run spiritually and physically well for God’s glory. By the way, “When’s the next race? I’m ready!”
Give a listen: Finish Well