Running the Race
By: Rein Schmidt
Since the time I was a little boy, I always enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics. I was always fascinated by the athletes. They showed stamina, strength, and dedication to their particular sport. During each coverage of the Winter Olympics, the broadcasters would highlight a few of the athletes and tell the story of their achievements and success in getting to this point in their life. It was always remarkable to learn that each athlete dedicated an enormous amount of time to perfect their talents in their sport. For example, one story told of a figure skater who started at a very early age, learning to skate all the required elements so as to be able to compete competently. As she became older, she would get up and be at the ice rink by 4:00 in the morning and practice for 2 hours before school. After school she went back to the rink and practiced some more. This routine went on year after year. A broadcaster would ask her how she felt about giving up a normal childhood pursuing the goal of competing in the Olympics? She responded by saying, she sometimes wished she could spend more time with family and friends, but she just keeps her focus on the goal - the goal of winning a gold medal in the Olympics. That is the common element of all the athletes that compete in the Olympics. They all have sacrificed so much for the chance to win a gold metal.
This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 9:25, "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable". If the athletes sacrifice so much in pursuit of a perishable reward, how much more should we sacrifice in pursuit of an imperishable. When we accept Jesus as savior we become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). At that moment, a new process starts in our lives - the process of becoming more and more like Christ as we run in our faith. Our goal is worth so much more than a perishable reward.
Just as the athletes lay aside every encumbrance that would hinder them in achieving their goal, so are we to lay aside every encumbrance that hinders us from becoming more like Christ. According to Galatians 5:16-23, the deeds of the flesh are what hinder us from running the race. But, in comparison, the fruit of the Spirit is the right training for that race. Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…"
As we grow in Christ, we need to remember that He always has our best interest in mind (Romans 8:28). We have the assurance that God helps us in our running of the race. So let us continue to run. Let us keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus. When we get to the end, let us be able to say what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Our reward will last forever and ever!