running the race…
I remember how I felt so vividly: the rush of adrenaline, the sweaty palms, the nervous stomach. On track meet days in high school, I was a wreck.
The whole day.
In the hours leading up to the event, before I even put on my uniform, my heart would start to beat faster in anticipation of what was to come.
Mine was a daunting assignment: the mile, the half mile, and the quarter mile relay.
I knew I would run until I felt like my chest was going to explode.
I knew I would run until my legs burned as if they were on fire.
I knew I would run until my mind was screaming at me to stop before I collapsed.
I knew that it would hurt so bad I would want to quit.
I knew I had to push myself to that pain limit three separate times (No wonder my nerves got the best of me!).
I knew I was crazy, because despite the nerves and the intense pain involved, I loved to race.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of crossing the finish line, knowing I gave everything I had.
It was worth the cost.
My dad was the head coach at my high school, and he would jog back and forth on the infield of the track as I ran, cheering and whistling.
I could hear that whistle above all of the noise, no matter where I was, and it always gave me strength to keep going. He would holler at me as I ran past him: “pump your arms!” or “make your move!” or “sprint!” as I neared the final stretch. My dad prayed with me before every race and he was always there to catch me at the finish line when I had nothing left. I learned so much from my coach about working hard and being mentally and physically tough.
Here’s a picture of us sitting together, going over strategy and praying before my race at the state meet.
Those years spent on the track gave me some great memories with my dad, and they also taught me real life lessons that I’ve never forgotten:
- When everything in me hurts and wants to quit, I have more strength than I think I do to keep going.
- A good coach and his guidance can make a huge impact on success.
- Giving my all to cross the finish line is worth the cost.
These lessons are true in life, and they are also true for faith.
- A life lived in pursuit of God and his plan will be difficult, but God will give me strength. If I boldly proclaim truth, I will encounter adversity and pain. The Bible is clear that those walking boldly in their faith will face persecution. However, I can find the strength I need to persevere with the power of God, given to me by the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to run the race alone. 2 Timothy 1:8, “With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.”
- I have the best coach: Jesus, whose life and words are the ultimate example for me to follow. Training in God’s Word is critical for success! The bible lays out an awesome strategy for me to follow; I just need to immerse myself in it. It also provides the encouragement I need when the race is tough. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
- All that I endure on earth for the sake of the Kingdom is going to be worth it one day when I get to heaven. It may cost me everything, but living a life of faith until my last breath will never be in vain. The prize is worth the sacrifice- heaven will be more wonderful than words can describe. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
When the apostle Paul was nearing the finish line at the end of his life, he wrote these inspiring words in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on the day of his return.”
It’s worth it.
That’s what he was saying as he sat in prison, awaiting his death.
It’s worth it.
To receive the prize of eternal life is worth every bit of the struggle on earth.
Paul ran the race. He gave all he had. It cost him everything. Still, he said…
It’s worth it.
Run the race.
Fight the good fight.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Dear friends, It takes a special person to choose to run in a track meet: to knowingly sign up for pain and suffering in order to cross the finish line and receive the prize.
In the same way, it takes a special person to choose to run the race of faith: to sign up for pain and suffering in order to cross the finish line and receive an eternal prize.
Can I invite you to run the race with me? Nerves and all! Can I encourage you to step up to the starting line and chase the one thing that really matters? No matter how difficult it becomes? I promise, heaven will be worth it.
If you have never made Christ the Lord of your life, or if you haven’t been running the race of faith like you should, take a minute right now and pray. Tell God you are ready to run for him and that you realize you need Christ to be your savior. Ask him to forgive you for getting off track. Tell him that you surrender your life to his plan, no matter what comes and then ask him to send his Spirit to strengthen you until you reach the finish line. Give him praise because he alone is worthy of running for. Amen.
As always, I love hearing from you. Email me or comment on the blog and I will get on my knees for you. Please feel free to re-post, share and forward this blog – I appreciate your help spreading the word. Let’s do this faith journey together.
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