How to Run Your Race

Dear Friends,

It's so good to be back after a few weeks break over the summer period.

The following story is thanks to a friend of mine for bringing it to my attention.

My friend recently posted a news clip on Facebook from BBC News with the title "US runner praised after stopping mid-race to help fallen rival".  The story is about two athletes who were competing in the qualifying heat for the 5,000 metres.  Hamblin, the New Zealand Athlete fell and as she did she also tripped up US athlete, D'Agostino.  Instead of getting up and running on D'Agostino helped Hamblin to her feet, encouraging her to finish the race. Later D'Agostino fell as she had been injured from the first fall and this time it was Hamblin's turn to help her up and encourage her to keep going.  They were both awarded the International Fair Play Committee Award Medal for their Olympic spirit.

In the Bible the writer Paul uses the example of athletes and running a race as an illustration of our Christian life and spiritual journey.

1. Running with Focus
But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:12b-14 (NLT)

As an athlete focuses on the race in front of him, so we too focus on what is ahead of us. We keep in focus the prize that is promised to each of us who finishes.  It's not about finishing first or in the top three, rather it is about finishing well.

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 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. 26 So I run with purpose in every step.  1 Corinthians 9:24-26a (NLT)

2. Running with Endurance
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. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)

Hamblin and D'Agostina kept going, they finished their race, despite tripping up and despite injuries.

God calls us to endure and persevere in the race set before us.  The race can be exhausting at times, we may trip up, we may feel weak, we may sometimes get discouraged. Sin can entangle us and cause us to slip up.  Difficulties may come into our lives such as poor health, financial worries, heartache etc.  But we have a wonderful example of Jesus who ran his race with purpose and endurance and is now seated at the Father's right hand. So we run with endurance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.

3. Running with Others
We do not run this race alone.  It is not a competition.  We run this race with others.  First, God is with us every step of the way.  God says to us:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

Secondly, with those who are also running this race.  They encourage us to keep going, to not give up.  They provide support along the way.  Just as these two female athletes did.  We need to encourage one another in our Christian journey. There will be times when I can offer encouragement and support, and there will also be times when I am in need of that same encouragement and support.

24 and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, 25 not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25 (AMP)

To Think About:
Where is your focus right now?  What causes you to loose focus?  What helps you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?

Is the race tough for you right now?  What helps you to keep pushing on and enduring?

How have you been encouraged by others in the past?  Is there someone you know who right now is in need of encouragement and support?  How can you provide this?



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