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  • Pastor Ralph

Running the Race

For years I ran as a way of keeping in shape and handling stress. I loved running and it really kept me in good shape and good spirits. I eventually started to train for triathlons but never was able to get to the point of competing. There were so many lessons I learned from running, even though unfortunately I am no longer able to enjoy that discipline. I like the way Paul talks about the Christian life being like running a race. Listen to his words in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)…

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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Running is about persevering, hanging in, finishing the course. It is a perfect picture of not only life but the Christian life. Running and life both take training. It is constant plugging away in disciplines that will help us achieve steadfastness and wisdom in running the race. God has provided His word that we might grow in knowledge of what pleases Him and prayer that we might grow in grace. He gives us Pastors and teachers to help us, fellow Christians to encourage us and His Spirit that lives inside us to give us that special enduring power.

I found that in running, I needed to strike a healthy balance. Cross training, days off, lighter days and heavier days all went towards maintaining healthy growth. We need to also strike a balance in the Christian life with times of relaxation, times of rest and times of patience just waiting upon God. Sometimes we look for things that are unrealistic and we put unrealistic goals upon ourselves. We need a balanced approach to both exercise and living the Christian life. We are not competing with others, we are simply trying to please Jesus. Remember He loves us.

Another thing that I encountered when running was what they called “hitting the wall.” This came late into the run when you felt drained and wanted to quit. It is a common phenomenon and happens to all runners. It was then that I needed to focus most and keeping on going. It is like that in life. We all face problems and challenges. Sometimes they come in multiple waves. Of courses we need to use prayerful and sound wisdom when these things transpire, but in normal circumstances we need to keep our eyes on the finish line and call on God for the strength to go the distance. As one person has said, “If you find a pathway and no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” Let His word, not emotions, power you through.

As we start this week, let us rejoice that we have a God who walks with us in the complexities of life. Jesus Christ endured so much and remained faithful, persevered all the way to the Cross. He is there to encourage us and empower us as we “run the race” with Him. God bless you my friends and may His grace meet your needs this day. Remember “For the Christian to trust is to triumph.” Your reward awaits!

Keep safe and keep in His love – Pastor Ralph

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