There are four possible outcomes for a race.
You don’t show up
In my sixty-five years of running there have been many small races in my bigger race and I have experienced all of those possible outcomes.
But I have also learned there are things I have to do to not only run but to finish well.
Run my race.
Run with patience.
I have to avoid thinking “I have plenty of time”.
In real estate we have a phrase we use “time is of the essence”. It is a legal term that when used in a contract, places the other party on notice that failure to complete a required performance by a certain date set forth will constitute an incurable breach.
Although God does not give us a set day when our race will finish He does encourage us to run now.
I love the Message translation of Hebrews 3:13
“So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.”
There will be a definite end to our race. And even though we might not realize it we are always running towards two possible outcomes. The only question that remains is- Is it the course that God has marked out for us or a different course?
Run (travel) light.
A skilled runner will strip down to the bare necessities before the race begins. He or she understands unnecessary weight only slows you down.
There are things in our race we carry with us that are not wrong in and of themselves but slow us down.
And there is always the temptation to bend the rules to cut corners that will ultimately disqualify us.
If we are to finish well we have to throw off everything good or bad that hinders us.
Run your race
In Hebrews 12:1 we are instructed to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The verse does not specify a sprint, a relay or a long distance run but focuses on running your race whatever it might be. All our races look different but I cannot run yours, you cannot run mine even though we might sometimes run together.
In a 5k, 10k, or marathon there is a designated starting point and a finish line. You might be the faster runner in the pack and outdistance the competition. But if you finish somewhere other than the designated finish line you will be disqualified.
Skilled runners do not have to be told to run forward.
But sometimes we do. You can’t run forward if you spend most of your time looking back. At least not for very long.
The same can be said about running in circles. Lots of activity but no forward progress.
If you have not heard “ready, set, go”, maybe it’s not time for you to run. Sometimes the best thing you can do is prepare, be still, and wait. Again running your race and not following the crowd is most important.
Run With Patience
I have a friend who runs 100 mile marathons. The preparation to run the marathons is intense but nothing compared to the actual running of the marathon. I asked him “what keeps you running when the physical and mental exhaustion takes away the will to run?”
His answer, “Spirit”.
“The soul has immeasurable energy if we as human beings choose to use it.”
The last part of the race can be the most difficult.
Some of you have been running for a long time and you’re tired.
Some of you started out strong but the course has become difficult and the finish line seems far away.
It’s easy to want to check out, give up when everything in you says “quit” when the finish line is so close.
Endurance is needed and in these times it only comes from keeping your eyes on the One who has called you to run your race. My friend is correct He offers immeasurable energy when we call on Him. Hebrews encourages us to
“Run with endurance the race God has set before us.We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Thank you Pastor Jamie Bilyeu for the inspiration you provided that enabled me to write this.