You have a race to run. I have a race to run.
Your race is not exactly like my race and neither is my race like yours.
To run your race successfully and faithfully, God has already put your beautiful feet into your own special pair of spiritual Nikes custom-made for how God made you, who you are and what you will become in Christ. Your shoes are awesome, but not nearly as amazing as your race!
Your race is a very personal race you’ve been given. Your Creator planned out your course to run long before you came into this world. Perhaps, you realize this truth more at times than at others or maybe never at all. Nevertheless, this race is for you. It is your race to run. It is unlike all others.
It’s quite possible you wouldn’t have chosen your race at all, had the choice been yours. Or perhaps you wouldn’t have chosen this particular route. Or perhaps you wouldn’t have chosen your pace. Or perhaps you would have chosen different racing environments, teammates, or coaches. Or perhaps you would have chosen different capacities, strengths, and resources, ones you believe would help you run more effectively. Or perhaps you would have chosen a different distance.
But here you are: in this race, on this route, at this pace, on this terrain, in this climate, with these people, and your strengths, and your limitations, for this distance. Like it or not, this is your race.
And the question is this: “Will you embrace your race or keep trying to escape it? What mindset will you choose?” For though you may not have chosen your race, you do get to choose how you run it.
How to Run Free
There’s only one way to real freedom and real joy: we must renounce our fantasy races, routes, paces, terrains, climates, teammates, strengths, or distances, and embrace the race we have been given. This is how to run free and for joy:
“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 text shows us how to run our race and run it well.
1. Learn from great runners.
You are running a unique race, but not an unprecedented race. No one has experienced exactly what you have, but many have experienced the same emotions, temptations, and various other challenges common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13). That’s why the Bible includes a “great cloud” of examples of faithful race-running.
If you want to run well, study other runners. (Hebrews 11) provides a helpful starter list, but it is by no means exhaustive. Study the great faith-runners. Examine all aspects of their courses. God did far more abundantly than all they asked or thought (Ephesians 3:20). He will do more for you, too, if you run faithfully.
2. Run as light as possible.
This is your race. God has given it to you. This truth is for your liberation, not your limitation. It’s meant to free you, not constrict you. It’s folly and sin to waste time wishing your race were different or resenting God’s choices. Most of those in the great cloud of witnesses had no idea all that God was doing while they were running very difficult races. Neither do you. But learn from the witnesses that God’s purposes are bigger and better than you can imagine.
Lay aside all the weights of fantasy and escape. Lay aside the weights of past sins and regrets. It makes for miserable, slow running. The cross pays for all the past, and the future joy will make all present difficulties now seem light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17). Focus on your race, and only carry what God gives you. His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
3. Run with endurance.
Endurance is only increased by pushing our current limits. It’s hard, yes. And you don’t know how you’ll ever be able to run like other great faith-runners. Neither did they when they began. This is not a short sprint—this is a marathon.
Begin today, and push your limits. When tomorrow comes, run and push your limits. What exhausts you today will be much easier in six months, but then you’ll be pushing different limits. Don’t look at your fantasized ideal of a great faith-runner. Let Jesus make you into whatever runner He wants. You faithfully and prayerfully aim to increase your current endurance limits.
4. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Look to Jesus — He is your greatest example, your Savior, and your greatest intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). He is the source of your greatest joy — your one great prize for running well (Psalm 16:11; John 15:11). A race is only run for a prize. If the prize is not before your eyes, you will lose motivation. If you feel unmotivated to run your race, it may be because the prize has been obscured. First priority: eyes on the prize again, whatever it takes — whatever it takes! And then “run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Embrace Your Race
This is your race. God has set it before you. There is more glory in it than you yet comprehend. “How are you going to run it?”
You can’t change the past; stop trying. There’s much you can’t change about the present; stop trying. There are many fantasies singing like sirens to allure you into the illusion of indulgent escape; stop listening, and don’t let them eat your race time and weigh you down. Understand God has already equipped you to run it. His daily supply of grace is more than you actually need, it’s abundant. You can totally trust Him for that. He would never put you on a course and not provide the means for you to complete it gloriously!
Embrace your race. Study the great faith-runners, run as light as possible, push your current endurance limits, and get your eyes on the Great Prize. Run freer, run faster, and run for joy. Millions of heaven’s runners and saints from the past and now in eternity are cheering you on loudly as you read these words. Can you hear them? “Go! Go!! Go!!!”
Let nothing hold you back or slow you down today. Let nothing hinder your progress now. Give your race all you got and you will celebrate with heaven forever your finish to God’s glory! Your level of joy in heaven’s eternity depends on how you run your race here and now on earth. Believe me, your race is worth the extra-effort. The grandstands are filled with cheers for you to run with dedication, strength and faithfulness. We are all rooting you on! Finish strong my friend!
Your fellow race-runner,