By Carol Round, Special to ASSIST News Service
CLAREMORE, OK (ANS – September 27, 2015) –“You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win!”— I Cor. 9:24 (CEV).
Until my knees began to give me trouble, I competed in racing events. While I wasn’t athletic growing up, I discovered in my early 40s that I was capable of running and finishing a 5K race. I hadn’t set out to run competitively. In fact, I entered my first 5K just for fun.
After being encouraged by other runners who were passing me, I increased my pace and ended up snagging a third place trophy in my age division. After that, I was hooked on running and continued to compete for about six years. I didn’t always place but I did earn several more trophies and medals before my forced retirement.
My final race was the Tulsa Run, a 15K. While I had set a 90-minute goal, I became sidelined with cramps, which slowed my pace. However, it didn’t matter. I had run the 9.3 miles and crossed the finish line.
Preparing before each race, especially the Tulsa Run, required discipline. I had to eat healthy. I also ran almost every day.
Our spiritual life requires the same discipline if we want to finish strong. However, compared to the importance of running the spiritual race God has set before us, finishing a foot race—other than the health benefits—is of very little value.
What of value must we embrace to finish our spiritual race? Just as runners prepare before each race, as Christians we must make a habit of reading and studying scripture, being diligent in prayer, seeking wise counsel, attending church services regularly and becoming involved in small group studies. To grow spiritually and to cross the finish line we must be intentional.
What happens, however, when we stumble on our journey? How can we ensure that when we falter, we can recover and cross the finish line to victory?
According to James MacDonald, Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, it requires getting back to basics. He says, “Honestly answer these seven questions:
1. Do I hunger after God?
2. Does God’s Word govern my life?
3. Do I grieve over sin?
4. How quickly do I repent when I see my wrong?
5. Am I sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting me?
6. Do I obey?
7. Is my faith growing?”
I confess at times, I’ve needed to get back to basics. Living in a sinful world can distract us. During my racing days, I learned a valuable lesson from a fellow runner. Instead of focusing on the runners around me and wondering if they were going to beat me to the finish line, I began to focus on a tree, a sign post or other object ahead of me. As I reached each landmark, I set another goal until I reached the finish line.
What’s the ultimate prize at the end of the Christian’s race? It is the glory of God. Ask yourself: How am I running my race?
Photo caption: Carol Round.
** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)