The Crim Festival of Races was held in downtown Flint this past Saturday. As a lifelong resident of the Flint area, it is great to see the excitement that accompanies the races each year. I especially enjoy the thrill and anticipation for the longest event, the ten mile race. Seeing thousands of individuals anxiously awaiting the opportunity to cross the starting line, yes I said starting line, is quite a site to behold. Because, for some participants it may take more than fifteen minutes just to reach the starting line, to officially get the race started.
I happened to be working downtown during this year’s event and was in a position where I could view the home stretch to the finish line. This was my first opportunity as a non-race participant to watch those approaching the end of the race. It was quite a different experience from other years, where I had a chance to see racers prior to the halfway point of the race.
As I watched, it made me think of points in the Bible where our lives are compared to running a race. Here are a few verses worth meditating on.
Acts 20:24 (NIV 1984) However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
I Corinthians 9:24 (NIV 1984) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV 1984) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
As a past participant of the Crim ten mile race, it is interesting to think of how our lives compare to a race. My first opportunity to take part in the ten mile race, back in 2005, resulted in an interesting race day experience. It was a day filled with challenges that I didn’t anticipate. I had trained effectively, but failed to create a strategy, thus resulting in some miscalculated race day decisions. What were my miscalculations? Most importantly, I started out the race too quickly and expended a great amount of energy weaving my way around other runners. As a result, by the time I reached the five mile mark, I had achieved a time I was extremely happy with, but at a pace I couldn’t maintain. I also had failed to hydrate properly. At the eight mile mark, my stomach and calf muscles were cramping so badly, that I was forced to walk for a good majority of the final two miles in order to finish the race. After the race, I was badly dehydrated and not feeling so well. Instead of being thankful that I was able to run and finish the race, I admit that I was quite disappointed that things had not turned out as I had hoped.
As a write this today, I’m reflecting on my life, and wondering if in my personal race, I have a tendency to make some of those same miscalculations. Am I expending energy, as I dodge through issues of life, and losing steam before I can reach the finish line? How often do I try to run this race without asking the Lord to renew my strength? Am I so determined to go in one direction that I fail to listen for directions from the Holy Spirit? Am I dedicating enough time to reading God’s Word and to prayer in order to keep spiritually hydrated? Am I testifying enough about the gospel of God’s grace? Am I repenting of and running from sin that would hinder me from running or stop me altogether?
As I think through these questions, there are a few thoughts that come to mind. In order to finish strong, we must maintain a proper diet, listen to Our Coach, and practice. Eating properly requires feeding ourselves daily with God’s Word. Listening to God, Our Coach, requires consistent time in prayer. Finally, we can put what we’ve learned into practice by serving others and sharing the gospel message. In closing, I would like to encourage you to find a “training” or accountability partner, who will help hold you accountable in your spiritual training.
Looking forward to running this next leg of life’s race with you!