I started this post two weeks ago and am finally finishing. Woot-woot! It has been a very busy time as my family is in process of moving, (which has been our marathon move).
I also want to share that this will be my last post for a while. I know God called me to this blog after I almost lost my husband to pneumonia seven years ago. But after prayer, I feel led to focus on some other areas, the first being getting our family situated in our new home. Many of you have been so encouraging in my blogging adventure. Thank you for reading and for all of your support! . . . . On to the race. . .
With rubber-like legs, I pushed myself to what I thought was the last stretch before the finish line. Although my vision could only focus on the runner in front of me, my hearing worked just fine. “Half a mile left!” the runner next to me told her friend.
No! I wanted to scream, if only I could. There’s not a half mile left in me!
But I knew I would be my own worst enemy, if I didn’t push myself and finish. Amazingly, I did, (although I almost collapsed afterwards). Not that I’m a great runner, but my body had more reserve than my brain let me in on.
Ever feel like you’re in the last stretch of a marathon, (or half-marathon as was my case), with no kick at the end? The daily grind in itself can chip away at our resolve to go an extra mile, let alone the inevitable monster trials that pound all of us on occasion.
To finish a race, one must practice discipline and persevere. What is this race the Bible talks so much about? While there are many references, I think Galatians 5:7 (ESV) brings some clarity: “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
Any athlete knows the importance of good nutrition and adequate rest for optimal performance. Likewise, applying the discipline of Bible study, devotions, prayer, fellowship, and service is the training ground for believers to successfully follow God’s truth and finish the race.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24) .
How do we “run that we may obtain the prize”? The following are a few points that come to mind.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Not every runner is built for long distance. Some are sprinters, but they lack the endurance for the long run. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the abilities God has given you? What are your spiritual gifts? God made you unique and has equipped you for service that will not only bring Him glory, but will also be rewarding.
Don’t Get Sidetracked
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before: Keep your eyes on the prize.
The athlete must be disciplined and throw off every hindrance. And “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,” (Hebrews 12:1).
We’ve all sinned and fallen short. We’re exhorted to “forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13). For the believer, we have everything to look forward to: heaven, eternity with Christ, no pain or sorrow, and much more.
Know Your Course
Jesus tells us His sheep know His voice and listen to Him. Too many times, I needlessly stress, wasting precious time and energy, seeking after good things, but fail to run after what’s best. When I don’t take time to be still and ask God to show me what my race course looks like, I wind up running the wrong direction, missing an important turn, or limp along a course God didn’t design or call me to in the first place.
Ephesians 4:6 says, “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”
God has unique plans for both churches and individuals. The Apostle Paul writes: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God,” (Acts 20:24).
What does your race course look like? Have you taken time to seek God’s direction in prayer? Ask Him to scope it out with you. He alone knows what He has in store for each of us. His ways may be mysterious, but He has good plans for those who love Him. He will only call you to a ministry course that He has trained you for and knows you can finish with His help.
I’m not a track coach, but I’ve learned that the correct race strategy for a marathon follows the exact opposite theory of a 5k. The runner’s goal for any race is to learn how to settle in to a specific pace and run it from start to finish. Control the need for speed. It’s better to be consistent.
Maybe God has placed you in ministry that feels like a marathon. Maybe you’re in training with some shorter sprints. Maybe He’s called you to a season of rest. Ask Him to speak into your season and what He wants you to pursue each day. Then follow through.
Don’t Run Alone
Many of us who enjoy writing are introverts. While we need our down time to reflect and reenergize, it’s really important we don’t hole up and withdraw completely from other believers. We are part of the body of Christ and need the other members if we want to be healthy and keep in the race. Other members need us as well. It’s God intention for us to meet together regularly.
Thanks for staying the course! I appreciate each of you and pray God’s blessing as we continue the race. 🙂