Throughout my entire life of watching sports, some of the people I have had the most respect for has been endurance runners. They put in hard work for 364 days a year in training for that one event. Then, on Marathon Day, the training all comes into fruition.
I was never a marathon runner, nor even a person who was interested in running a race. However, as I walk on the road with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I realize that it is not a sprint, but a MARATHON! Along the path of the race, the apostle Peter tells us about how there will be many trials and tribulations that come along our way. In any of the major sports, teams will face tough stretches where their teamwork will be tested, but it’s how they come out of those tests that determine whether or not they are “championship material”.
When I first came up with this very site, I looked at a verse that eventually became my mission statement. The two verses, which come from Hebrews read like this:
“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)
This verse stood out to me because the writer is trying to tell his readers that when you follow Jesus, you have to endure the entire marathon. The first step is to run the race and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior who was the propitiation for your sins. He finished the grueling part of the race that we could never finish!
As the runner is participating in the long race, fatigue begins to set in. In the heavenly race, we can consider fatigue to be temptation whether it is not praying every day or letting your Bible collect dust, etc. We all face these kinds of temptations and at times, we succumb to those temptations. However, Jesus wants us to drink the living water and trust in Him at all times. Jesus told the woman at the well at Samaria to drink the living water that ultimately leads to our salvation.
“Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
With the exception of a few gifted runners, most people run a marathon to finish the race! As Christians, we are taught to run to the finish line or in other words, until the Lord calls us home to be with Him!After you accept the walk, there is still training that we all need in order to become fully enriched into God’s Word.
Spiritual training is something we all need to do 365 days a year in order to run the race every day. It takes a lot of effort to stay on the course and sometimes we may slip up, but the goal we have to remember is receiving that heavenly reward when we come to be with the Lord. Take a look at what Paul tells the people of Corinth about the need for self-discipline:
“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.” (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV)
In ancient Greece, runners used to compete for an olive wreath that would be placed around their heads. We need to keep running for that heavenly reward at the finish line rather than be distracted by the earthly rewards that are trying to be our stumbling blocks.
Just being in the competition is not enough! We can’t just say that now we are saved by the blood of Jesus that we can do whatever we want. It does not work that way. Paul told Timothy that “an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5, ESV).
While God did save us from the curse of the Law, this does not mean we should ignore the commandments that God has placed in our hearts and minds. That is why the training becomes important during our running. While it may get discouraging that people may pass you along the way, you should keep your head up, put your trust in the Lord because He knows what is best for you!
Today, I exhort you to keep running that race. While it may seem difficult at times and the easy path might seem tempting, remember the heavenly reward that God has set before you once you finish the race. His Son ran the grueling part of the race for us when He suffered and died on the cross for us so that we can have eternal life and have a heavenly reward! I also exhort you to keep reading the Word of God! When we are equipped with the Gospel, we can withstand any test the devil throws at us just like our Savior did in the wilderness. (Matthew 4)
When I made this site, I wanted other sports fans who did not know Jesus to come run the race with me. So as I end this devotion, I wanted to take an excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Philippians that summed this up the best. I pray that you will spread this devotion to Christians and non-Christians alike and continue to press on toward the ultimate goal!
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)