ARLESSONS LEARNED FROM RUNNINGLook towards the finish line! Keep on going! You’re almost there, and God is waiting for you on the other side…We can liken our spiritual journey towards the heavenly kingdom to preparing for and running a marathon. Both require endurance and hard work on our part, and if we look towards the finish line and draw from the Spirit of God, we will receive our heavenly reward.
I often find that the longer I am in Christ, the harder the journey seems. There have been many times when I feel the end is too far, and I don’t have the energy or the stamina to continue on this spiritual race anymore.
Somehow though, during the most difficult times, God is always there for me, supporting me and nudging me on. I often compare my spiritual journey to my running and am amazed at the many parallels we can draw from the sport.
Here are some of my thoughts.
LOOK TOWARDS THE FINISH LINE
I remember the feeling when I was nearing the finish line of a half-marathon. I felt both intense pain and sheer joy. Joy because I had finally made it and was nearing the finish. Pain because I was running with a sore hip the last couple of miles.
Even though it hurt to run, I kept on going, running through pain and fatigue because I had my eyes set on finishing the race. I told myself that I trained so hard not just to run the race but to finish it.
Even though the journey to the finish line was gruesome, with many hills to overcome, leg cramps, and muscle spasms, none of it prevented me from eyeing the end.
Apostle Paul understood the difficulty of running the race when he firmly reminded us to “[forget] those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13, 14).
This is exactly what runners have to do to keep on going: forget about the pain and strive towards the goal. It is also what we, as Christians, must do.
The only way to accomplish this is through the Spirit of God. A training guru said, “The five S’s of sports training are stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit, but the greatest of these is spirit.”
This is true in running.
The Greatest of these is Spirit
We may have all of the first four qualities, but if we do not have the spirit to keep on going and to overcome our mind, which keeps telling us that we cannot go on anymore, then those qualities may not drive us to the end.
Likewise, in our spiritual journey, we may have the strength, the skill, and the stamina to walk the heavenly way, but without the Spirit of God in us, we are unable to complete this journey.
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isa 40:28-31)
As the passage above states, God’s spirit gives us strength when we are weak. It gives us the power to continue—to run without feeling weary. What a runner’s dream that is!
To be endowed with all this strength when we run this heavenly race is a great blessing indeed.
If we ask God daily for His spiritual strength to dwell in us, we will be amazed at the power we receive from above. It will provide us with the stamina and endurance needed to complete this race.
Whenever I am feeling down and think that it would be easier to quit, God reminds me with His precious words, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”(Heb 12:1, 2).
Through these verses, I have learned to be far-sighted and to have hope. We need to overcome our present situation, our current difficulties, and look beyond to the glorious blessing that lies ahead.
These verses tell us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. This means that since He started our race for us, He will also help us finish it.
We need to hold on to that promise and continue running. Don’t let our pain or our fatigue weigh us down. Instead, ask the Lord to fill us with His spirit so that we can be energized to carry on.
“KEEP ON GOING!”
At around mile eight of the half-marathon, I was faced with a short but steep hill. I braced myself for it and ran up. Once I reached the top of the hill, I was exhausted! But I made myself keep on going because I refused to let myself drop out after all the training I had put myself through.
Up on the hill, there were many supporters encouraging us to “keep on going!” Hearing these people cheer me on gave me the extra boost I needed to keep on running. I was also fortunate because I was running with a colleague’s friend who had run half-marathons before.
She ran with me most of the way and continuously encouraged me to keep it up. Even though she didn’t say anything at times, her quiet but steady presence provided me with the encouragement I needed.
Oftentimes on this spiritual journey, we are faced with many difficult external circumstances, which may make our faith waiver. It is at these times that we need the support of close brethren in Christ.
Sometimes, I feel so burdened and overwhelmed with problems that I feel very weary. I tell God that I cannot handle it anymore and that I can no longer keep on going. It is amazing how God has listened to my cries and pleas and released me from my burdens and instilled in me a heart of peace and joy.
I remember once I went into work even though it was a day off. I felt a heavy burden on my shoulders and unable to cope with my problems any longer. It was just at that precise moment, at my lowest point, that a brother called and encouraged me.
I didn’t even have to say anything to him. He knew.
I truly thank God for this brother’s words of wisdom. It helped me put things in perspective and gave me the strength to continue on this journey. I know that God was using this brother to help me, to provide me with the encouragement I needed. Through this brother, I gained the energy to continue with what I had already started.
The Lord never promised us that this spiritual journey was going to be easy. He did say that “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life” (Mt 7:14).
Even though that may be the case, it is important that we continue.
We may think that we’re running this race at too fast a pace. We may feel tired. Then slow down. Walk. Replenish our energies.
Most important, however: DON’T QUIT! Surround ourselves with close brothers and sisters who can encourage us with the word of God and prayer.
WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY THAT WILL BE!
When I finally finished the race, the sister who came to cheer me on congratulated me by quoting apostle Paul’s words of wisdom: “[You] have fought the good fight; [you] have finished the race, [you] have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).
When I heard these words, I felt a sense of accomplishment, and I couldn’t stop smiling! All the pain and fatigue I had felt disappeared. None of it seemed to matter anymore.
The most important thing was that I had reached the goal. I had finished the race! I was in seventh heaven! I couldn’t believe that I had finally done it. What a wonderful feeling it was!
I remember thinking to myself how wonderful it would be when I actually finish the spiritual race and My Lord would say those words to me. That would truly be a joyous occasion.
All the pain, all the difficulties, all the tears—none of it would matter anymore because I would have finally reached the goal and endured. I would finally be able to see my Savior face to face. Oh, what a glorious day that would be!
There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye;
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore-
What a day, glorious day, that will be.
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face – the One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day, that will be.
The lyrics to this hymn give me much peace, joy, and hope to continue with this difficult but most worthwhile race.
Now when I run this race, I focus all my energy on Jesus, as He is the only one who can replenish our soul and reenergize us with His spirit.
That is why I have decided to run this race and stick with it. I want to be able to see my Lord face to face. I want to be able to hold His hand and to give Him a great big hug. See you at the finish line!