“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”—Hebrews 12:1-2(NIV).
In my early 40s, I began competing in 5K races. I never considered myself an athlete. But, I’ve always had a competitive edge, less so since I’ve grown spiritually. I’ve learned it’s not about who wins but doing my best with my God-given gifts.
During the four years I raced competitively, my time steadily improved. At first, it was about beating others in my age bracket to the finish line. I won some trophies and medals, which now mean very little to me. At the beginning of my racing years, I focused on my competition—those women in my age bracket. When I did, my time didn’t improve much.
Then, I learned a secret to persevering and not giving up. I began to focus on a goal ahead of me on the race course. I’d locate a tree, a utility pole or some other object in sight. As I passed each goal, I set another one, leading me to the finish line and improved race times. Focusing on my personal best instead of the competition was the answer to winning.
Winning Our Race
In a recent discussion with a friend, we were discussing spiritual growth. He mentioned a speaker he’d heard recently, a speaker who’d had what I call a “Damascus” moment. Sharing his testimony, the speaker revealed his struggles with drugs and other addictions keeping him from being the person God had created. The speaker’s fire for the Lord was evident.
What my friend, now in his 60s, was struggling with was his own walk with God. He’d accepted Christ as his Savior when he was younger but he’d drifted away from the path. He’s been searching for a while, questioning his spiritual walk.
I reminded my friend the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are called to stay the course, remaining faithful to the end. It doesn’t matter where or how we start our race, it matters how we finish. Near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Keeping the Faith
At different times in our lives, we struggle on the course marked out for us. We consider giving up while clinging to our past failures. Holding onto past hurts, worries, anxieties, fears and sin can lead to stumbling on the path ahead.
Sometimes it’s not the past, but the future that trips us up. We race ahead of God when we need to persevere and stay the course. Impatience can lead to choices that derail God’s plans for us. But, God can reroute us, if we let Him.
It’s when we want to give up that we need to refocus. Focusing on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, is the key to crossing the finish line. He’s the answer to winning our race.
Crossing the Finish Line
During our life’s journey, we can experience the presence of our Savior and Lord through His Holy Spirit. He’s with us each step of the way. He’ll never leave us, nor forsake us.
Jesus endured the cross, scorned its shame and then sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). His suffering and the opposition He faced from sinners was for you and for me. He endured and suffered so we might not grow weary and lose heart.
At the end of our life’s race, we’ll meet Jesus face-to-face. Crossing the finish line, we’ll hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”