In about six weeks, signs that spring is around the corner will make their appearance long before the last stubborn icy snow patches melt in my city. Athletes and running enthusiasts will emerge from their indoor sports facilities and will once again take to sidewalks, bike paths, and nature trails. Promotional materials will plaster street posts. Media releases will announce upcoming charity runs and walks. Prospective participants are already hunting down sponsors. Print shops will soon start printing t-shirts and other promotional material.
Every charity hopes their event will raise needed funds and bring attention to their cause. As soon as the last person crosses the finish line and the clean up takes place, volunteers begin planning for the next year’s run. A full year of planning goes into an event that lasts a few hours. However, the majority of those attending the event begin training months in advance. While a t-shirt and other swag might motivate some participants to run, most run with the hope to promote the cause, raise funds, and improve their fitness.
Most of these Charity Runs support causes that many people find worthy of their time and sacrifice. They consider the training, fundraising, and half a day spent at the event to be insignificant in comparison to the goal they strive to meet.
2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.”
However, God calls us to a more significant race. The stakes are higher as they hold eternal consequences. The entry fee to stand at the starting line is high – your life.
Acts 20:24 – “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.”
You need to dedicate every waking moment of your life to the running of this race. Your Personal Trainer suggests compliance with his training regimen of proper nourishment, exercise, and rest. His diet plan will have you feeding your spirit on his word and feasting on fellowship with other believers. He’ll encourage you to relish those activities that bring good and wholesome thoughts, (Philippians 4:8-9). You’ll need to cut back on spirit clogging junk food; such as gossip, racy movies, and any other spirit-draining recreation.
You’ll need to do strength-training exercise. Bearing the burdens of others, reaching out to those in need, lifting the downtrodden, and bending your knees in prayer. There will be lonely training sessions with no earthly witnesses to cheer you on your way. Your obedience and commitment to the goal will be your only reward on most days. Some days, the finish line will seem impossibly distant. That’s usually when your Heavenly Trainer will invite you to step back and rest. As you take up that invitation. he’ll bolster you with his strength and send you back into active training once again. (Isaiah 40:31)
It doesn’t matter what shape you are in at the beginning of training. It’s what you do in the training process that determines the outcome of your race.
Philippians 3:13-14 -“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8 -“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
As I write this, it is the end of January 2020. Perhaps you made some resolutions at the end of 2019, and you’ve let them slip on by. You might be feeling like a failure, and you might be beating yourself up for having a lack of will power. Maybe you just bit off more than you could chew in one week. Perhaps you tried to run the big race without first undergoing the training. Ask God for his help.
Ask yourself this question. Are you trying to reach this goal to impress others or to impress God? If you are trying to impress God, he already loves you as much as he ever will. While he urges you on to the goal set before you, it is your willingness and your heart toward him that pleases him most. Picture Papa God at the end of the finish line, his arms outstretched to wrap you up in a hug.
If you live for the praises and positive attention of others, you will soon find yourself chained to a cruel taskmaster called People-Pleasing. This taskmaster will push you at a pace you will never be able to sustain.
Make a list in point form of the benefits of the goal you have set before you.
- How will the daily process of reaching for this goal benefit you today?
- How will the attainment of this goal benefit yourself in the longterm?
- How will it bless others?
- What will your life look like if you reach that goal?
Keep that list somewhere you can see it daily.
If you’ve slipped up, don’t try to catch up all in one go. Start again by being patient with yourself. Don’t allow that slip up to define you as a failure or as someone who doesn’t have what it takes. We’ve all seen that meme of a brave out-of-shape man profusely sweating as he jogs. The caption reads: No matter how slowly you are running, you are moving faster than you were when you were sitting on the couch.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2020 Katherine Walden