July 24, 2017

Running My Own Race

Devotion for the Week...

Paul and I have signed up for our first 10K race, which will take place in a couple of weeks. Looking at the finish times from the race last year, I'm thinking it's quite likely I'll come in dead last. The slowest time last year was a full 6 minutes faster than the fastest I've ever run 10K!

Obviously, the pool of runners will be different, so there may be someone even slower than I am, but even if I am last, I'm not worried about it. I'm not actually racing to win. I'm running the race against myself, trying to improve my fastest time and I'm planning to enjoy the race atmosphere. Besides, someone has to be last!

Running races have become a big thing. There are thousands of races every year, from 1 mile races, to 5 and 10K races, half marathons, marathons and ultramarathons. The funny thing is, very few of the people running the races are actually running to win first place. Most people are just like me, running against themselves, against their previous fastest times or against the voice in their head that says they can't do it or against the memory of races that didn't go well. Or maybe they're just racing for the fun of it.

In many of his writings, the apostle Paul (not to be confused with my husband Paul!) compared living for God to running a race. Consider these verses:

Galatians 2:1, 2 - "Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain." Paul wanted verify that he wasn't doing something wrong, that he had been teaching what was right and true, not wasting his time and effort and causing harm by teaching falsely.

Acts 20:24 - "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." Paul was focused on what God wanted him to be doing.

Galatians 5:7 - "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?" The Galatians were being led astray by false teachers, people who were trying to tell them that believing in Jesus was not enough for salvation and there were other conditions that needed to be met as well. Paul equated that with losing the way and veering off course during a race.

2 Timothy 4:6, 7 - "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Feeling that his death was approaching, Paul could look back and see that he had done what God wanted him to do.

And one from an unidentified writer, Hebrews 12: 1, 2 - "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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." I love that this writer encourages us to run with perseverance in this verse. There's no doubt that running can be hard, especially long distance running. Life can be hard too, but by staying focused on God rather than on our circumstances, we can continue running the race God has for each of us.

I find it interesting that Paul and the writer of Hebrews talk about "my race" and "the race marked out for us." Not everyone had been called to travel as a missionary and plant churches like Paul had been. Each of us has a different race to run, and it's no good for me to try to run your race or for you to try to run mine.

It's no good for me and Paul to run together. He's much too fast for me...if I try to keep up with him I'm going to run out of steam long before the race is over. And if he tries to run at my pace, he won't finish nearly as well as if he runs at his normal pace. It's no different for us spiritually speaking. He's a high school teacher and the kids often talk to him about difficult situations at home. Though he doesn't tell me their stories, he does occasionally say something like "The things some kids deal with at home is enough to turn your stomach." I wouldn't be able to listen to the kids and help them, because I know I'd never be able to deal with their pain. Paul can, though. That's his ministry to those kids who need someone who will listen. It's his race and there's no way I could run it.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

We're all living this Christian life together, but at the same time we're all running our own races, the ones God has marked out specifically for us. The question we have to ask ourselves is: Are we focused on running our God-given race to the best of our ability?

2 comments:

  1. Good thoughts! Thanks for them and the challenge to run our race as God would have us to.

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  2. A very thought provoking blog. I have been struggling with feeling like my race is over. I am in remission from canicer. Even though I had surgery, chemo and radiation 4 years ago, I have never bounced back. My chemo suppressed my immune system and now I catch every bug going around and it takes me weeks to get over it. According to my doctors there is nothing I can do to improve my health other than isolate myself from others. I know the Lord still has a purpose for my life but it is hard to see it right now. But I want to finish the race well. So thank you for your words.

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