The Race Is On

Phil 3:13-14 –I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: forgetting the past… I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to Heaven.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 –In a race, everyone runs but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.

Hebrews 12:1-3 –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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Proverbs 27:17–As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

I began this year doing something very different – I participated in a fun run, a one-mile run at my local park. The weather was perfect for a January morning – bright and sunny, much of the snow melted from last week’s blizzard, and surprisingly warm. I proudly donned my racing tag “Number 303”, and when the starting blast began off I went! I tried to stay focused on the course, to pace myself, and to stay on track. I didn’t remember the trail being as steep, and admittedly had to slow down to a fast walk several times on the journey. There were some before me, and some behind, all running with the same goal – to reach that finish line! As we neared the end, my friend took my picture, and the bystanders cheered us on. I received a ribbon for my efforts, and the satisfaction that I had achieved my goal.

What was particularly meaningful for me today was the analogy of my physical race to the spiritual race my Father calls me to run. It’s a new year, a fresh beginning, and I renew my commitment to Him to running the race strong, focused and steady. Yes, there will be unexpected turns, hills, dips, and at times discomfort and times of discouragement that perhaps I won’t make it. But if I fix my eyes on Jesus, in His strength I can do anything. My part is obedience, and faithfulness to run towards Christ and not let all the “stuff” in my life get in the way and entangle me/trip me up. Each step of the way I must choose Christ, and not lose heart and grow weary.

One day I hope to run into His arms in Heaven, and I wonder if there will be others there who have gone before cheering me onward, that great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews. This run taught me the importance also of cheering on my brothers and sisters in Christ, to encourage them and support/lift them up on their race as well. We need to be there for one another – we’re not alone on the path.

So on this first day of 2011 I write to anyone reading this to be encouraged and feel strong and confident – God is for us (Romans 8:31)! Let us lift up one another, keep each other on track, running strong and focused towards the goal. Be daily in God’s word and in prayer, pray together, keep each other accountable, really be there for one another this year when we need a friend, in any God-glorifying way we can.

And most importantly, devote yourself to Jesus Christ this year in everything you say and do — may this year be the best and strongest run of your life — RUN STRONG! FINISH STRONG!

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