Run Your Race
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1
word count: 838 read time: 2 minutes
I am an athlete, but I am not a runner. In fact, running seems more like a form of punishment than a sport to me. So when my friend Mike contacted me to join him for a five mile race this year, I reluctantly agreed to run. As much as I dislike running, I truly enjoy the building of relationships around a common goal or activity and I thought this run would be a great way to get in shape, but also build our friendship. Training for this race and then running it taught me some great spiritual lessons.
From January through May, I went into training to be ready for this run. I consistently ran one mile in January, two in February all the way up to running five in May. The slow building up of mileage made the feat of running five miles more manageable. We are not to despise small beginnings because when we build progressively and faithfully from what we have, we eventually achieve greater goals.
On the day of the event, I used my Bible software to look up the word, “run”. I was seeking for some encouragement, spiritual focus or to hopefully find some verse I’ve never read before that said, “Whatever you do, don’t run a five mile race. Throw a barbeque instead.” I couldn’t find that verse, but what I did find that caught my attention were some familiar verses in the book of Hebrews.
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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I was pushing myself to run an 8 minute mile for the entire race. At the end of every mile there were large digital clocks showing how much time had elapsed since the start of the race. I ran mile one in 8 minutes along with miles 2, 3 and 4. It was the pace I had hoped to run and I was pleased.
On the sidewalks and lawns to the outside edges of the street where we ran were spectators who were cheering along all the runners. Their encouraging words were like fuel to my exhausted body and mind. I reflected back on the scripture from Hebrews 12, “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” and thought about the forefathers of faith who cheer us on daily to live for righteousness.
I kept looking ahead of me finding other runners I could set my eyes on to try and catch. I would look to my left and right for people I could keep pace alongside. As I ran, I prayed. One benefit of my interim running regime is that it greatly increased my prayer life. “God, help me.” and “God give me strength” were too of my most common pleas as I chugged along the path.
In response to my prayers, I could hear the Holy Spirit in his still, small and gentle voice whisper to my soul, “Run Your Race”. God was speaking prophetically to my heart and using this race as a means of delivering his message. It was simply this, “I have not called you to keep up with people ahead of you or track how you are doing against others. I have only called you to run your race.”
Friend, in the race of life each of us face our own uphill battles and trials. At times we may be tempted to compare ourselves to another person’s life and wish we were in their shoes or envy them in some way. We may despise the difficulties before us believing we were given unfair circumstances.
Instead of looking to the left and right, God wants you to look straight ahead to Jesus and run your race. Your race encompasses all the crosses you need to bear in life as well as the joys and blessings. Don’t be discouraged; don’t lose heart, simple focus on running your own race well and leaving the results up to God. In the end, God will award you with a crown if you remain faithful in running the race marked out for you.
In this moment, no matter what challenges you face, I encourage you in the Lord to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ. Consider his suffering and death on your behalf. Know that his struggle was greater than our own and his power is most readily available to you. Take a deep breath. Breathe in the life that flows from God’s Spirit and breathe out all the struggles and trials to the Lord.