We are all running a race. Not against each other, though. You are not my competitor. In the race of faith that is the life we’ve been given to live in this word, we are teammates. And as we strain forward for the finish line, there are some important things we must remember. These are things I’ve been challenged to gear up with in recent weeks.
For starters, each of us must take responsibility for our own race. This requires the willingness to train, to push ourselves beyond the limits we are used to being governed by. Truth be told, I can get lazy sometimes. I don’t always want to push myself. It’s much easier to pick up a book or turn on a movie with the kids and check out of the race. Entertainment is a strong alternative to discipline. Of course, there are times for enjoying the company of others or even settling into rest and leisure, but there are also times for training. Knowing which is which, and suiting up and showing up accordingly is what sets us up sets us apart as winners.
No one signs up for a race expecting to lose, or aiming to give up. Winners are finishers. They’re the ones who stay the course, even when the course feels longer and the terrain is more dreadful than we thought it would be. Sometimes the race seems to lead us through mountainous routes that feel like they might never end. In those legs of the race, it’s tempting to look for a shortcut, to turn around and head back home, or to just sit down and quit. History has been our only perspective thus far, and what’s familiar often seems far better than what we’ve been promised but cannot possibly see. We would rather settle for what we’ve known than reach for what we haven’t.
But we’ve been called to a new future – the future God has prepared for us. The race we’re running does not end up in any destination we could conjure up in our own dreams. This demands an intensified focus in the direction of surrender and endurance, and a deepening trust in the One Who has mapped out the course we can’t always see our way through. It means we must remind ourselves, in times when we grow weary and long for a “better” way, that turning off the road we’re on can only mean disaster. We may discover a more pleasant path, but it won’t lead to the finish line we’re after.
All along the course of this race, there are women who have lost their way. Women who have either quit their race or become so distracted with other things that they don’t want to run anymore. I see them every day. They’re just like me: mothers, sisters, dreamers, employees who have just resigned themselves to surviving the chaos. We have the same choices they do. We, too, can choose to quit or devote our attention to something else off on one of the sidelines. And I suppose, if our race was about our own pursuits, that would make sense.
But if the race we run is truly not about us, but rather about the One Who has called us to more than we could ever imagine, then we have some ground to put beneath our feet. We have some determination to get under our belts. We have some stick-to-it-iveness to clothe ourselves in. Again.
Consistency matters when you’re running a race. Not everyone who starts this race will finish. Anyone can get off to a great start. We can all take Jesus at His Word, be filled with inspiration and vision, and take off with that kind of wind in our sails, determined to see it all come to pass. But what happens when we get injured along the way? What happens when we grow thirsty and tired? What happens when we take a tumble? What happens when we don’t see any other runners for miles in any direction, and it feels like we’re doing this all alone?
Of course we’re not. Beware of the Elijah syndrome! God will always have a remnant of people who are still running their race, determined to see the Promised Land. I wish all of us were part of that. But the shocking reality is that, while many are called, we won’t all make it.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, where are you on your course today? Do you know that you are among the chosen? Have you set your heart to endure, and focused your energy and intention on training hard, running consistently, and leaning with all of your heart on the everlasting love and all-sufficient grace of God? Or have you wavered? Have you entertained other possibilities? Have you decided to set up camp in the middle of your run, and just settle down there until Jesus comes for you?
I wish it were that easy. There may be times when we are called aside to rest, but there will also, most certainly, be times when we will need to pick up and move again. Times when we need to run the race that is set before us with all of our hearts, looking nowhere but straight ahead, to the One Who is calling us forward.
It may be that you’ve lost sight of your finish line, or that you’ve lost your strength and your wind. I am here to remind you that the One Who has put the breath in your lungs is the same One Who will give you new strength to rise up and run again, even when you feel like you can’t. I am here to remind you that He knows the way. Even if you can’t envision the finish line, He knows just how to lead you to it.
Beloved One, breathe in deep today. Catch a fresh breath and renew your determination to finish the race. Say to your tired body, “Rise up and run!” Say to your weary soul, “There is joy waiting in the journey of endurance.” Look to the One Who has gone before You, has promised to be in it with you, and celebrates your every step.
It is never about running faster, nor achieving any status as your run. It is always about breathing Him in with every stride and, one hurdle at a time, moving through the journey faithfully. Not just by getting through it, but by enjoying it. By determining that God will receive the crowning prize for the life He has given you to live.
I call forth everything in you today, by the power of Spirit of God, that has been called to run and to reach the finish line. No matter what befalls you along the road of your life, stay the course! Don’t lose heart, because there are others who are in need of endurance, as well. And you and I will be the examples they remember.
May your heart swell with fresh determination to get up and go forward today. May you surrender every setback to the One Who has called you, and may you condition yourself to go the distance, no matter the cost. Your Reward, the God Who loves You passionately, is with you, and will lead You into glory at the appointed time.