Two weeks ago, I was able to run my first 1/2 marathon with my brothers. It was by no means a piece of cake. It was on Raccoon Mountain and the climb of 1200 feet took strength. Running 13.1 miles took endurance. Finishing took great discipline.
There are many different analogies to our Christian race and running a race, but one that exceptionally struck me after the race was the process of endurance.
During the running race, we had to pace ourselves so that we wouldn’t wear out before reaching the finish line. Likewise, in our Christian walk, we have to set boundaries so that we don’t get burnt out – something I continue to learn a lot about!
While running the race, we had to hydrate and have small snacks of protein throughout, otherwise our bodies would have not been able to continue on physically and could have begun to shut down before the finish. Likewise, in our Christian walk, we must be constantly allowing ourselves to be filled by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, His Church, and prayer or we will Spiritually be hindered in our race.
“You’re doing great, Beth.” I consistently heard from my brothers right behind me. The encouragement and fellowship during the race was essential in helping me to push on even when there were inclines that seemed impossible to climb ahead. Fellowship and encouragement with fellow Saints is immensely important in order to endure through the trials we will face on our Spiritual journey.
Additionally, taking thoughts captive while running was constant as I would find myself thinking, “You can’t do this.” Or “It’s too hard.” I had to remind myself that I had trained for the race and I could do it. In our Spiritual race, satan is constantly trying to feed us lies about how inadequate we are and we must be intentional about shielding those lies off with the truth of who we are in Christ and faith how He is actively sanctifying us. We are completely accepted, secure, significant, and free in Him!
During a Bible study I have had the privilege of being a part of this past year one of our leaders reminded us that our Spiritual race begins the day that we commit our lives to Christ and that “It is finished,” which Christ proclaimed on the cross, is exactly where our race begins. Yes, we must be intentionally laying aside every weight which hinders us. Yes, we must discipline our minds and bodies in submission to Christ. Yet, it is not our acts that get us to the finish line. Because of God’s grace for us by sending His son Jesus, our race is indeed already won – we are victorious in Christ.
We live in “the already and the not yet.” We have been justified, yet we are still being sanctified. Christ reigns in us, yet we await the day that He reigns over the whole universe. Our race has already been run, yet we are still running it. I believe we are called to look back at what Christ has accomplished, look ahead to where will be one day and live in the moment with persevearing faith.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a could of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the same, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)
“Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls.” (Hebrews 12:1-3, The Message)
As there is constantly something for me to do in this whole process of fundraising and preparing for the field, it is so easy to become overwhelmed and paralyzed. Yet, I am constantly reminded of God’s grace to me and how in reality, my race is already won in Christ. This joyful knowledge frees me to continue on, step by step, in continued reliance on Him alone. Praise Him!
Where have you become paralyzed in your life? Where have you stopped running and have become distracted by this world? How is the Lord calling you to fix your eyes on Jesus in a new way today?
Together may we remember God’s grace and be empowered to continue on even when the path ahead seems impossible, knowing that Christ has already walked that path before us and goes with us each step of the way.
Running this race with you,
Pictured: Myself and my brothers, Philip and Andrew running our first 1/2 marathon together.