Run the race. I’ve heard that just before a 5k and while seated in a church pew. It’s a great challenge and the perfect illustration. How did this topic make the 30 Before 30 cut?
6. Run the Race.
I started my running career while in college. My primary motivations were to stay active, lose weight, and find my own individual sport. If you asked me then if I wanted to run a marathon, I would’ve just laughed. But as my running career progressed, that bucket list item eventually crept into my runner’s brain and became a growing dream.
As I started a rigorous training program to prepare myself for the grueling nature of a 26.2 mile race, I began to understand what it meant to run the race.
Like running long distance, life is a marathon, not a sprint.
“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. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)
One of my heroes is runner-turned-missionary Eric Liddell. I wrote about him in an older post. Here’s an excerpt that still applies today:
One of my favorite quotes from Chariots of Fire is when Eric says, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” This is so true in my life. I know running isn’t for everyone, but God sure has given me the ability to enjoy it. I hope I can use running as a way to bring glory to His name. I may never win an athletic competition. I’m okay with that. But in running the Christian life race, losing isn’t an option. I have to do what the Hebrews passage talks about. Fight sin. Run with endurance. And keep my eyes on the prize.
When I think of Eric’s life, I can’t help but think through how I would’ve handled his “fork-in-the-road” decision. Would I choose comfort, a familiar culture, the thrill of running, a positive, challenging, athletic career, being close to family and friends, and much fame and rewards over the life of a persecuted missionary, facing potential torture and even death?
Eric Liddell turned down fame and fortune to bring peace and salvation to his enemies. He used his body to bring glory to God – both as an athlete and as an ambassador for Christ. I hope the same can be said of me.
God’s Word has more to say about running the race (emphasis added):
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)
“I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:23-27 ESV)
Often during a run, and typically when I’m running without my earbuds and music, my mind drifts from one thought to the next. Sometimes my mind focuses on the tyranny of the urgent; other times it’s on prayer requests or sermon applications. These are all good and necessary things to process mentally. Silence and time to think are a rarity in my life. I need the frequent reminder that this life is short and I need to run well. Running gives me that gift.
I’ve written before about my early running career adventures. For a good laugh (and my total embarrassment) you may take a peek at my old (please don’t judge me) running series below:
- Don’t Play with the Wildlife
- Polite Bikes & Kellerites
- I Feel Like I’m in a Weird Disney Fantasy
- What I’m Listening To
- Top 5 Favorite Runs
- Body Spray Is Dangerous
(No, I don’t normally use body spray. It’s a long story. Trust me.)
Running is my escape, passion, hobby, prayer trek, and fitness outlet. I consider it a gift and a blessing. For as long as I’m able, I’ll lace up my Nike’s for another go at a new PR, or just a quiet moment alone with the Lord, away from the pet monster that is my iPhone.
Start strong. Stay true. Finish well.