Okay, so if you haven’t heard, I recently enlisted in a Couch to 5K (C25K) program in preparation of running my first 5K event ever at the Anamosa Pumpkinfest. In order to share in this pleasure I also signed up my oldest son, Wyatt, to run with me. Wyatt and I are not in the best shape and in fact we lean quite heavily toward the couch side of this equation (pun intended). We are well aware of our physical shortcoming so we thought this program would be a good place to start.
The very first night of our training came and I admit we were slightly nervous. One consolation was that we figured there had to be a few people in the group who were similar to us (i.e. heavy and slow). We arrived and started to make our way to the group gathered next to the track. Right away we knew we were in trouble.
The majority was slim and looked quite fit. One woman gave us hope by her appearance but she soon revealed that she was a former track coach. One guy was doing stretches I had never seen before. Despite our initial evaluation, Wyatt and I walked bravely up to the group and introduced ourselves; everyone was very nice. In the back of my head I thought, “Once again my purpose here may be to make others feel better about themselves.”
Once the running began it was soon apparent that sometimes you can judge books by their covers. Wyatt and I quickly fell to the back of the pack, trudging along at the speed we could manage. It wasn’t too long before we decided that this was perfectly okay, now the others will be impressed with any improvement they see in us, including showing up next week. We could do nothing but laugh between gasping for breath as some of the runners lapped us. The super stretchy guy we cleverly nick named “Mr. Speedy” since he ran past us so fast we could feel a breeze. Later he would become known as “Ol’ Three-Lapper”, I think you can guess why.
Now, while it is fun to laugh at the situation above, I want to talk about another type of race that should be taken very seriously. It says in 1 Timothy 4:8, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” We need to be training ourselves spiritually in godliness. This not only has value for today but for eternity as the verse states. Did you get that? For ETERNITY.
The writer of Hebrews even compared the life of faith to a race:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Picture your spiritual journey as a race. Not a race against each other, but a race toward Christ likeness. As the verse above states we are to keep our eyes trained on Jesus as the “founder” (or originator) of our faith. He calls us to faith in him, like he’s picking us for his team. Jesus is also the “perfecter” (or refiner) of our faith through sanctification, so he is also our trainer. We aren’t told to stroll along hoping to pick up some wisdom here and there as life and time allows. We are called to run, and run “with endurance”! So run, girl, run! Work hard at becoming more like Jesus.
There is also wise training advice contained in these awesome verses. We are told to get rid of dead weight, “…lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…” Ever try to run a race while carrying large bags of trash? No, that would be stupid, so is carrying sins while we try to be more like Jesus. So lay aside anything that even potentially hinders your spiritual growth. Take the time to really think about this one please.
While you are running you will gain strength and encouragement from God’s Word, since it is your sustenance (Matthew 4:4). Jesus will be ever near with his commandment of “Go” (Matthew 28:19).
Paul also spoke of this race in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
This verse even promises a prize for running the race well, a “crown of righteousness”. This does sound like an exciting prize, but far greater than that will be praise from our Savior when we get to the finish line (Matthew 25:21).
Wyatt and I will have ups and downs as we train and many more laughs along the way (especially since I told him we have to dress up like big pumpkins). But our true race is one towards Christ and that race is the only one that really matters. So, Ladies, its time; lace up your running shoes and step out on the track. Set your eyes on Jesus and run, girl, run!