Saturday, 3 August 2013

A More Important Race

The air was filled with crisp cold-morning fog, the stadium filled with the laughter and chatter of hundreds of kids all pumped for their races, and the enticing smell of salted hot chips wafted over the grounds. It was the Athletics Regionals - a chance for all the schools in my area to compete against each other.

Nervously I arrived at the sports stadium, anticipating the 800m, the first event of the day. Even as I write this now I have butterflies in my stomach, just remembering my nervous anticipation from this morning! I went for a jog, stretched, and then waited in the marshalling area anxiously. All too soon it was time for my age group to make our way onto the track. I was put in lane 4, and adrenaline pumped through my veins as I crouched in the starting position, ready to go.

The gun fired, and with a burst of energy I bolted from my starting position. Driving my arms and legs hard, I set about to overtake the other girls. By the time the first corner came around I was winning. I heard the commentator make some remark about what a great pace I had set, and I grinned. I ran fast, and kept my eyes focused on the track ahead thinking, 'Hey, this is great - I might actually win!' I turned the corner and ran along the last 100m stretch of the first lap. My dad was there, encouraging me and taking pictures, my grandparents clapped and waved, and the other competitors from my school were watching and cheering me on.

I felt great - that is, until I completed the first lap. After I rounded the corner heading for my second lap, everything suddenly felt dead. I tried to drive my arms harder, but it felt like they didn't respond. My lungs heaved and gasped for air, and my head swam. I dropped my pace rather rapidly, and could do nothing but watch in despair as I was overtaken by 4 girls. I struggled to keep going, and as my legs started to burn I considered giving up altogether. 'No!' I decided, 'I can do this!' With all the energy I could muster I crossed the finish line at a slow jog, in 5th place.

The problem was, I hadn't done enough training. I'd been sick, I didn't rest enough, and I forgot about dad's advice to 'pace myself.' I gave the race everything, but in the end it that wasn't enough - I wasn't fit enough, I needed more training, and I just wasn't prepared.

Having said all this, my experience last Monday reminded me of another race - a more important one - that we're called to run in. In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul encourages to run the race towards the prize of Christ Jesus:

'Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.'

The thing is, this race is a lot like the one I ran in last week. This race requires training as well - perhaps even more so. You see, if we run the race on our own merits, we'll fall and stumble. We need to run the race relying on God, putting our trust and hope in him. To be the best, an athlete needs to train, get fit, and constantly improve.

Like an athlete, we should be diligent in 'training' ourselves, and seeking advice and techniques to help us run a better race. One way we can 'train' ourselves is by reading God's word - his teachings, advice, and techniques. Reading the bible prepares us for the challenges that face us along the track ahead. When the doubts, fears, and worries rear their ugly heads and tell us to quit the race, the bible will show us exactly what to say to them!

The bible offers us so much wisdom - but it often seems that so many other things in my life get in the way of my time with God, reading his word. I've put other things first in my life, and as a result, I haven't been 'running' too well lately.

This week I'm challenging myself to wake up just a little earlier and spend time with God in his word every morning. Its something I need to do a whole lot more often - besides, I don't want to blow out during the race like I did last Monday!

What about you? 

How's your 'running' going?

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