“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24, NKJV)
In a few weeks Cindy and I will be running The Race to Robie Creek half-marathon. This is our first time in such an adventure. It was Cindy’s idea, but now I am hooked. As I have been training, running up the mountain, I have thought on Paul’s words. He must have known something about the Olympic games. In those days the runners competed for a laurel wreath (hardly the same satisfaction as a gold medal). Paul encourages us to live our Christian lives with the same passion and perseverance. I can assure you that for me running a half-marathon is not easy. I haven’t even gotten up to the 13 miles, but after a run my legs and knees ache for a couple of days. But the cliché is true: no pain, no gain.
When it comes to our Christian race there are times when the temptations, hits, misunderstandings and heartaches are almost too much to bear. We feel like turning aside from the race. We may even take ourselves out of the race for awhile…or at least slow down. But one thing is for sure: we cannot win the prize unless we continue in our course.
We have been attending the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University. Once Dave had lunch with a billionaire and asked him if there was a piece of wisdom that he could pass on. The billionaire simply said that he always reads the story of the tortoise and the hare to his grandchild. “You know what?” he said, “The tortoise always wins!” Some progress, no matter how little or how slow, will eventually bring you to the finish line. Usually it’s not the people who sprint at the beginning who finish well. True, they look impressive at first; they appear to be far ahead of the pack. But then they hit the wall, and often they are the first to injure themselves and drop out of the race.
Our Christian race is a marathon and not a sprint. As a pastor, I am most impressed with those believers who are the methodical tortoises. They may not draw any attention. Often they work quietly behind the scenes. But they are the faithful ones who will finish strong. Maybe they won’t come in first place, but they’ll finish before many who, like the hare, expend much energy quickly for all to see, but just as quickly drop out of the race.
The good news is that even if we have dropped out of the race, as long as we’re alive there is time to jump back in. Our heavenly Father is so gracious to welcome us back.
If you’re in the race, then keep on truckin’ with all you’ve got. We’re proud of you! But if you’ve dropped out or never started it’s not too late. Get in the race and run to win with the steady strength the Lord supplies. That’s the secret to finishing well!
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