I enjoy watching sports of all kinds. I love watching them because of the struggle, the competition, the will to be the best and to see the sacrifices people make to push themselves to the limits. One of the sports I love to watch is running. Part of it is because I used to be a runner and the other part is that it is as much mental ability as it is physical ability. There are also many correlations between running and our spiritual life. Paul knew this and drew several of those in his letters to the early church. He knew that our Christian lives demand the same type of discipline.
One of the first things you learn in running is form. Yes, there is a proper way to run and an improper way. You can reduce wind resistance and drag by how you shape your body and move your arms. When you don’t have proper form, you create resistance that slows you down and wears you out. It’s the same when it comes to running our faith race. There is a proper way to do it and a way that slows you down. The New Testament spends a lot of time describing how we should live as believers. The writers knew that it wasn’t the great sins that defeat us, it’s the little ones over time. That’s why Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (NLT)”
Another thing you learn in racing is to keep your head and eyes forward. So many races are lost because the runners are looking side to side to see where everyone else is. That’s a major no no for runners. It slows you down, distracts you from your goal and creates resistance. You have to keep your focus on your breathing and your eyes on the finish line. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:25, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. (NLT)” We need to lose the distractions in our lives that keep our eyes off of Heaven. Keep your focus on the One who is faithful and true so you can finish your course.
The last thing I’d like to mention is that you have to run your own race. God has a specific course for you. Your race isn’t the same as everyone else’s. Keep your focus on what and how God called you to live not on how He’s called others to live. Don’t compare yourself, your race or how you run to others. You have a different race, but the same goal. Paul knew Timothy was facing this distraction so he wrote to him in I Timothy 6:12, “Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself; for it was to this life that God called you… (GNT)” You run your best race by focusing on what God called you to, not what He called someone else to. So get rid of the weights that hold you down, fix your eyes on the prize and run your race.