Paul uses the metaphor of running a race to describe the Christian life. Running a race requires diligence, preparation, dedication, total focus on the goal, and the discipline of not being distracted. Sometimes the race is more like a marathon than a run around the track. There’s pain and suffering along the way. We fall down. But we keep getting up. Sometimes our job is helping others who are faltering.
I remember seeing a girl’s track team T-shirt years ago that had the image of an oblong track course with the words: “Run hard. Keep turning left.” It was a humorous attempt to keep the girl’s focused on their task: to run quickly and not get lost in the race. Actually, it offers good advice to all of us in the race of life. Parts of the course are really hard. We might be tempted to give up or slow down, but there is no reward in that. Sometimes when the road gets tough, we just have to keep persevering and endure the challenge. If you’re injured or wounded, rest. Seek help from the one who can heal you perfectly. Rest in God’s arms. But stay on the course. Let him strengthen you with his sufficient grace. Don’t give up. Above all, stay on track. Don’t get distracted by ‘rabbit trails’ that take you away from your goal.
One of the enemy’s primary and most effective strategies is to keep us busy, even busy with good deeds. You see, he doesn’t have to get you to hate God. If he just gets you to forget God for a while, he wins. When we get distracted by all our busyness we start to think it’s productive. But if it’s just running in circles and we’re not maturing or really drawing closer to the God we will one day meet face to face, what’s the point? You probably know someone who looks busy all the time but never really gets much done. Where’s the value in that?
Paul wrote to the church in Galatia how disappointed he was that they had fallen off the path. He laments how they lived like immature baby Christians, when they should be growing in maturity and producing spiritual fruit.
Keeping busy and running fast is not our calling. Keeping on the right path and continuing to move forward in faith is our only worthy pursuit.
Have you found yourself worn out from all your efforts to be in control? Does it seem like you are constantly running in circles? Have you started to sit out the race and rest on the sidelines? The Christian life is not a spectator sport. Get up and prepare yourself for the daily challenge by being nourished by the Word of God. Keep your eyes fixed on Him and His calling even as you’re doing things you consider to be mundane. Run the course set before you as if you were running for (and to) the Lord. Give Him your all. Don’t give in to the worship of a busy life. Stay in the race you were called to run and stay on course. The finish line is closer than you think.