Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What it Takes to Win the Race

There are many references in the Bible to winning the race, obtaining the prize, achieving the goal - we are talking about heaven of course. We must run to obtain (1 Cor 9:24); we must run with confidence (1 Cor. 9:26); we must not run in vain (Gal. 2:2); but we must run well (Gal. 5:7). But I think there is one factor in running to win that is most important - endurance.

What is lacking in the spiritual race most people are running today is effort. People want the road to be easy. They want the sacrifices to be minimal. They want the stress to be less. They want to get there, but they just don't want to try very hard.

Jesus said about the way that leads to eternal life - "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matt. 7:13-14). The way to heaven is not easy. It is a difficult way. It is going to take sacrifice, effort, endurance, hardship, pain, faith, patience, and much more.

Unless you have been a runner, you may never understand what it means to run in such a way that you may obtain the prize. Since I started running a few years ago, my running has helped me to spiritually see what the Bible has been trying to teach me all of this time. Every time I run, there are bad spots that I have to push through. Every time I run, it is difficult, and there are times when I want to quit. Every time I run, it would be easier to do something else. Every time I run, it takes patience, endurance, effort, pain, and faith in myself and my Creator.

Last Sunday night, at about 9:30, I headed out my door to run. My friends could not go, so I ran alone. I was tired from preaching and church work that lasted all day long - I had not gone home all day. I had to wait until the kids were asleep, and it was not blazing hot outside. But I ran my 5 miles, and as I was running I was reminded of what it really takes to win the race.

You see, friend, it just takes wanting it enough to make the sacrifices necessary to be successful. Every runner has thought to themselves at some point, "You know this is crazy. It would be easier not to run or work so hard." But every runner, when the race is over, feels the satisfaction of victory. They would do it all again: No matter how difficult the journey, no matter how many others were running, no matter the sacrifices that had to be made.

Heaven is a goal we can all achieve. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. It is a race you must finish, regardless of the cost. We have this great consolation: Our Savior is running with us, and our God is cheering us on at the finish line.

"...and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" ~ Hebrews 12:1

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