“Too fast!” My coach warned me at one mile into the three-mile race.
Most of my high school years were spent on a cross-country course or a track. I wasn’t an amazing athlete, but I was decent enough to be an average high school runner. So when my coach read the current race time to me while I was running early in the race, I thought pridefully, “Wow! I am an awesome runner!” It would have been a decent mile time on its own.
But the pace I was running at that point in the race was unsustainable for the whole three-mile event, especially for one with punishing and seemingly endless hills. I crashed about halfway into running the race, and ran one of my slowest matches that season.
My eagerness had been shortsighted, and although I had completed what was set before me, I could have done better.
Hebrews 12:1 ESV talks about the endurance we need for living our life here on earth. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Our life is a race and we want to be victorious in it. What can we learn from the runner that would help us in our walk?
Listen to those wiser than you, but realize that you might mess up anyway
This race happened early in my cross-country years. My coaches had told me to pace myself. But I did not have the experience, or perhaps the maturity, to understand that this race especially needed to be run with endurance in mind. This was a lesson that I learned the hard way, but it really sunk in.
In our Christian walk, it serves us to listen to the voice of experience from another, more mature, Christian. We are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” and should reach out to them for support and wisdom.
Not everything can be a sprint
Just as I couldn’t run the shorter track race at my slower cross-country pace, I couldn’t run the longer cross-country race at my faster track pace. In life, I tend to like a slow and steady pace for the tasks at hand, and my growth as a Christian tends to mirror that. But there are significant times where I have to work faster or grow faster. Faithfulness often requires a long-term mindset and a heart that endures. My strength for endurance needs to come from the Lord.
Focus like an athlete
Many athletes make significant sacrifices to be better at their sport. All of them give up time. Others might find that they are not able to travel, watch TV, or go out with friends as much as they want. Our Christian walk may call us to throw off things that are weighing us down in our walk. This includes sin but it can also involve interests, hobbies, causes, or relationships that compete with God for the #1 spot in our hearts.
Be honest with yourself and talk it over with God in prayer to determine whether something is holding you back in your Christian walk.
As we look to the Lord for our strength for the race, may He encourage us through every step we take toward Him!
Father, We ask today that You would help us to keep our eyes focused on the race ahead of us. May the steps we take glorify You! We pray that You would give us strength and endurance to keep going. We love you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.