By Liz West
I love the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. I love watching the athletes perform at the top of their specialist field. My favourites to watch are the track and field and the swimming events. I am competitive by nature so sometimes I can be heard yelling at the television from my armchair cheering on whatever Aussie is competing. The highlight of the games for me, however, is the marathon. The marathon signals the end of the games. For me it is over 2 hours of riveting viewing as the competitors race 42km in all sorts of weather. The stadium is full to capacity when the first of the runners comes through the tunnel and the roar is palpable. And when the finish line is well within reach, the runners raise their arms in triumph knowing their race is over.
I think you’ll know where I am heading with this blog when I see a striking similarity with what these marathon runners do and what we as Christians are seeking to achieve while God gives us breath. We are in a race called life. There are highlights and low points. There are times we are strong and other times we are injured and need recuperating. There are unseen things at play which we often do not see. So, I want to encourage you today as you run this race called life.
Some of us run the sprint, some run for a bit longer, while most of us run a marathon. God has called each of us to run whatever race He has called us to. And He has called us to do this with His help. The difference with our marathon is that we do not run against each other, we run with each other for the end goal.
This word means “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements”. How does that relate to us? I can’t take any kudos for the things I have done in Christ’s name otherwise I would take the glory for it. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 1v16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God at work, saving those who believe.” Paul was proud of the gospel because He knew the power of it in his own life. Sometimes I feel ashamed of being a Christ follower because I let others and Christ down. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I am not proud of my sin but I take pride in the Saviour who has done something amazing in my life.
I love 1 Timothy 4v8 in the KJV because it lets me off the hook. It says, “Bodily exercise profits little, but godly training is profitable unto all things.” So, there’s my excuse!!! It’s not saying that I shouldn’t exercise, but it is emphasising that running the Christian race requires training. It doesn’t come naturally. What does training look like? Reading the bible, studying the Bible,
memorising the Bible, sharing the Word with others, praying, meeting with other believers, maybe Bible College too. All these are disciplines which if they are not part of our lives, will not help us in our race. There are plenty of other things this life offers that can lead us off the path.
Some runners run for the pleasure, some run for the prize and glory, some run for health reasons while some just run with no purpose in mind. In this race called life, what is your purpose for running the race? Do you just want a prize at the end, or do you see some value in looking beyond that? The Westminster Catechism says this, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Whilst this is not directly in the Scriptures, it surely gives us a purpose to running our race. No matter what our race looks like we are to glorify God. This is exactly what Jesus did when He lived on this earth.
When I was at high school, I ran the 50mtr and 100mtr races. Anything beyond that and I would conk out. I would start out real fast, beating everyone else, only to be pipped at the line because I ran out of steam. Sometimes I feel my Christian life resembles what happened many years ago. Starting out good, but getting bumped along the way and giving up because it’s too hard. Perseverance means, “continuing to do or try to achieve something despite difficulty or discouragement.” None of us gets through life without bumps or bruises or things that come our way that try and derail us. Some of us go through much more pain and heartache than others. The perseverer in the end wins the race. Hebrews 12v1 says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.”
5. FOR THE PRIZE
What is the prize at the end of our lives? That beautiful verse in Matthew 25v21 says, “Well done good and faithful servant” sums up what we all want to hear when we have run the race. It doesn’t say “perfect servant” which would disqualify all of us. The prize is Jesus Christ and all that He has for us. The Apostle Paul says that he would forget all that was past to reach for that which was to come. And didn’t he have much to forget? We often drag behind us those things that weigh us down and cause us to lose sight of the prize. This is not what Christ has done. Our burden of sin and guilt was left at the cross not for us to pick it up again but to follow the One who did this for us.
6. FOR THE PEOPLE COMING AFTER US
There is a song by Steve Green called “Find us Faithful”. It is a powerful song and very challenging. Here’s some of the lyrics that I love.
O MAY ALL WHO COME BEHIND US FIND US FAITHFUL
MAY THE FIRE OF OUR DEVOTION LIGHT THEIR WAY
MAY THE FOOTPRINTS THAT WE LEAVE LEAD THEM TO BELIEVE
AND THE LIVES WE LIVE INSPIRE THEM TO OBEY.
The importance of running our race for the coming generations is paramount. They need to know how we ran so that they can learn from us. Floyd McClung, author of The Father Heart of God passed away a couple of days ago. Shortly before he got ill, he asked a group of students, “If I can’t continue, will you finish the race?”
My encouragement to you (and myself) today is to run your race with Pride, with Practice, with Purpose, with Perseverance, for the Prize and for the People coming after us.
Liz West - wife, mother and grandmother. Owner of Harmony Gifts and Books. A member of Bracken Ridge Baptist Church.
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