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Run to Win

I run because I like to eat.  I have a propensity for Mexican food, Chick-Fil-A, coffee, and chocolate. Unfortunately, if I want to eat from my four favorite food groups and still fit into my clothes, I must run.

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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

This morning, during my coffee date with God, I read those words. The repetition of the words let usjumped off the page. The anonymous author of Hebrews offered three commands in Christian life.

·        Let us throw off everything that hinders

·        Let us run with perseverance 

·        Let us fix our eyes on Jesus

I love the imagery this verse provides. Although I am not a trained athlete, I can relate to running a race, growing weary, and losing heart.  Going deeper, I dissected those three commands for my own personal reflection.  

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles:

Drop the baggage. I run free from unnecessary items.  I only run with ear buds to listen to music or a podcast. The author of Hebrews also tells us to run free from extra baggage. This baggage could be in the form of unhealthy relationships we know we should let go. Perhaps the baggage are those over indulgences (food, sleep, novels, games, and electronics) might not something considered bad, but too much of it could be hindering our walk with the Lord.

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

(Galatians 5:7, NLT)

Run with perseverance:

Keep running! Don’t give up.  On New Year’s Day, many of us start a new resolution, but how many have the fortitude to finish? Perseverance means to keep on, keepin’ on. Don’t quit now! This is the time when encouragement is needed the most. We need an arsenal of encouragement in the form of songs, Scripture, and friends to cheer us on when the race is tough.

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. (1 Corinthians 9:24-26, NLT)

The race marked for us:

God knows our start and our finish line. He knows where we are at any point along our journey or our race we call life. God describes He has a plan for us in Jeremiah 29:11.  In Psalms 139, God reminds us that all the days of our life are already ordained.  He already knows the direction of our path.  Sometimes we get overwhelmed because what we see in front of us is a huge obstacle and we give up because we cannot see the finish line. Don’t give up. God can see beyond the obstacle.

Over the past years I have participated in a few 5K races. Prior to race day, I will examine the course and map out the race. I like to become familiar with the path and acquaint myself with the surroundings. However, in life, we cannot preview our race. We have to take what God gives us one day at a time.

All the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:16, MSG)

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus:

Years ago, I participated in my first 5K race. I began the run with my son and niece, but a mile into the race I found myself running alone. Musicians, police officers, and supporters were on every corner providing cheers along the way. To my utter astonishment I stumbled upon my coworker’s wife,Casey near the halfway mark.  I was thankful when she offered to run alongside me for the remainder of the race. I was growing weary and losing heart.  A wave of nausea began to wash over me as we jogged the last steep hill. In an effort to hide my agony, I hollered a loud rebel yell “Yee haw!” But the agony did not subside. Sensing my weariness, she breathlessly said “There it is, April! The finish line! There it is!”  Shorter than Casey, I could not see the finish line. All I could see was a sea of weary runners ahead of us. Panting I said, “Casey, promise me it’s there, I can’t see the finish line.”  She could see what I could not. Somehow the knowledge of the finish line in sight encouraged me to keep on running.

In life we don’t have the advantage or previewing our path. Our journey will continue to have spectators hollering from the sidelines. Some cheer to encourage, while others will yell to drag you down. Over the past several years, God has taught me the value of tuning out the sideline shows, drama, and distractions in life. As my Sunday school teacher recently taught:  “Fix your focus” on the Lord.

I am thankful God sent Casey to run with me that day. I am thankful for her encouragement along our path. I needed reassurance that the finish line was near. She could see what I could not. When I began sharing Red Chair Moments, God led me to Romans 1:12: “May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”  Encourage those around you. If you know someone who is going through a tough season, encourage them. If you have been encouraged by their faith through that difficult season, tell them.  It might just be that your words are the reassurance they need to finish the race!

I have fought the good fight,

I have finished the race, and 

I have remained faithful. 

(2 Timothy 4:7, NLT)


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