I love to run but I hate to do races. Races are the worst. You have to be diligent in your pre-race workouts for months, and then on race day, you get up at an ungodly hour and run a course you’ve never seen before, being passed by young people pushing strollers with their dogs trotting alongside of them. Or maybe that last part is just me. I have been beaten by many a kid/dog combination in our local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. It is a little humiliating.
I mention this to let you know that I have officially lost my mind and have registered for a Half Marathon in Celebration, Florida. This charming little town is a favorite place of mine, and I have loved morning runs there. But to commit to a long-distance run when I will have to get up too early to run too long to be passed by too many dogs and strollers is either an act of insanity, or an act of faith. We’ll find out in January.
But even now, that commitment has landed in my soul, and I am motivated to be faithful to my daily runs. I have included a long run once a week into my training, just to remind myself that 13.1 miles won’t be doable unless I keep going now. This is the only sane part of doing a race … your commitment to it in the future informs your discipline in the present. It is an interesting dynamic: commitment informs discipline, but discipline also informs commitment. Plus, there is always the hope that there will be one dog running slower than you.
Paul uses a beautiful race analogy in this passage from Hebrews:
Hebrews 12 (The Message)
12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
I have always loved this passage. We don’t know if Paul was a runner, but he sure knew how to finish a race. This passage comes right after a listing of all the people who suffered for their faith and performed many acts of faith to get us where we are today. These people kept their eyes on Jesus through persecution and suffering, knowing that the reward was just ahead. That fueled their running and kept them on track.
Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Are you flagging in your faith? Have sin and doubt weighed you down? Remember the stories of those who came before us. Remember the path that Jesus created. Keep moving forward and don’t stop.
Never, ever quit. Keep that finish line in sight and keep on keeping on. Just fix your eyes on Jesus.