More people are running marathons than ever before. In 2013, there were more than 500,000 marathon finishers in the United States, more than double the number 20 years before. The runner’s high, many athletes have heard of it, most seem to believe in it and some say they have experienced it reporting how they felt so good when they completed the race it was as if they had taken mood-altering drugs. Was the feeling felt real or just a delusion? Moreover, even if it was real, what was the feeling supposed to be, and what caused it? It is safe to say a lot can happen during 26 miles. There are times of pure euphoria and times where you just want to quit altogether. However, crossing that finish line makes it all worth it. It is safe to say a lot can happen during 26 miles. There are times of pure euphoria and times where you just want to quit altogether. However, crossing that finish line makes it all worth it.
Many successful runners understand the art of running and know they must strip down becoming as light as possible if they want to run their best. At any track meet, you will see many runners preparing for their races in warm-ups, but they will take them off when it is time to run. Every year, marathons attract the so-called elite runners to the race with one objective and that is to win. Although there are others who participate and aim a bit, lower. For a select few, the goal is to just finish the race, complete the course, which in many marathons is not an easy feat and a proud accomplishment for the runner.
As Christians, we must be prepare for the race as an athlete prepares himself for the run. We strip down taking off the weighted clothing of sin to put on the robe of perseverance, intent and purpose to live for Christ, laying aside the things of this earth, running with great determination and vigor toward our promised eternity. In the forefront of our minds is the price Christ paid for our salvation, for through Him, our faith is born and only in Him, are we fulfilled. He is our only hope for the final reward. We read in Hebrews 12:1 the Apostle Paul tells us to “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. When Paul says to lay aside every “weight,” he uses a Greek word that means unessential weight. If we are to run with endurance, we must lay aside any superfluous weight. What does that mean, what constitutes extra weight in the race of life? Do not be fooled your excess weight may include some good things, like personal hobbies, recreational pursuits, or even charitable works. God would ask you today, to break free of the many non-essentials in your life that seem to distract you from running HIS race. The worrying that comes from the cares of this life will only hold you back from attaining the promises of God. Our first calling in our life is not competing with men but running toward Christ to attain him in fullness.
We can become so caught up in the good things that we lose sight of what is best…therefore, they must be laid aside. Besetting sin can slow us down. Ignorance can slow us down. So can a victim mentality that excuses us from taking responsibility for our own actions and choices. Procrastination can be extra weight as well. Tomorrow I will get right with God. Tomorrow I will seek His will. Tomorrow I will study His word. Then tomorrow becomes today, and today becomes yesterday, and you have missed the race of life! We are to run our race— the one God has set before us—and run it with endurance. The most important decision we Christians can make is choosing to run the race for Christ. The Christian compared to an Olympic runner who strives for the gold medal in face of fierce competition. He runs the race and wins the treasured trophy by dogged persistence to his talent. With our eyes on the goal of eternal life, not allowing distractions to cloud our spirit and slow our pace, we maintain total obedience to Christ, to aggressively run the final mile. This is his reward for achievement. Eternity must always be our mindset.
Paul, the apostle understood what was required of him. His relationship to Christ was the passion of his life: He says in Philippians 3:10-11 “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from among the dead”. Your spiritual race must have that same sense of wanting to be like Christ for without it there is no reason to even run or compete. In fact, there are several principles we need to apply as we pursue Him that is only found in His Word.