I have a love-hate relationship with running. I love how I feel after a good run. I love how heathy it is for me. But I hate the soreness, the fatigue, and the pushing myself to the limit. However, I run when I can anyways because I know the benefits of running outweigh its challenges.
In the same way our living for Jesus is a lot like running. It’s the best thing for us but it certainly has its challenges and obstacles to overcome in order for us to experience its benefits.
I think this is why throughout the Bible we find our relationship with Jesus compared to a race. We’re called to do a lot of things our flesh doesn’t initially want to do but we choose Christ over the desires of our flesh because we know ultimately Jesus is better for our souls. So we sacrifice and carry our crosses to experience the full life Christ promised. Except of course when we don’t. Sometimes we find ourselves just wanting to quit. I’ve learned it’s during these times we’ve probably grown tired or lost perspective. So today I’m providing 7 ways to embrace the race God has called you to run.
1. Understand This is God’s Race
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:24 NIV
This race will benefit you but it’s not all about you. God has called you to be His ambassador for the building of His kingdom. If we lose sight of this and start running for our own goals we’ll be quickly disappointed. But if we realize we’re running for something greater than ourselves we’ll find the motivation to run farther than we could on our own.
2. Maintain an Eternal Perspective
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV
The strict training you may endure in this race is not for a temporary prize. It’s for an eternal prize. When we realize we are running for something that will last forever it fuels us to know that though this run is difficult, it’s also more than worth it.
3. Focus on Christ
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
Focusing on Christ is key to embracing this race. When we consider Christ we realize He’s not asking us to do something He didn’t do Himself. Christ’s race was much more difficult than ours yet He ran it for us. Allow His act of sacrificial love to fuel you for your own race because if we lose focus we’ll start heading in the wrong direction.
4. Take off the Weights
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” – Hebrews 12:1 NIV
This race we are running is certainly not a sprint. It’s one we’ll be running for the rest of our lives so we need to pace ourselves. We also need to make sure there is nothing weighting us down and slowing us from reaching our prize. What weights is down? Sin. Sin is the very thing that distances us from fixing our eyes on Jesus and staying focused on Him. Sin is only going to make this race harder than it already is. So always be praying for the strength to overcome sin so you can run this race with endurance.
5. Keep Your Lane Clear
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” – Galatians 5:7 NIV
Your eyes are focused on Christ and the weights are off but also make sure you’re not running next to others that will cut you off. “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV) If you want to better embrace your race be sure not to run close to those who may get you off course . Instead, find a friend with the same focus as you who keeps you motivated to reach the prize. Then make sure you’re being that type of friend to someone else.
6. Don’t give up too soon
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV
Although we’ll be running this race for the remainder of our lives we’ll also experience small victories along the way. We’ll be tempted to give up but I encourage you not to. We’re not running until we feel like quitting. We’re running to get the prize. So keep going in until you do.
7. Finish Strong
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV
This whole race is about your faith. Will you keep the faith until the end? Some days will be easier than others so I want to end with reminding you that the race you’re running is a good one. It’s worth it. So keep running, never give up, and finish strong.
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Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.