Saturday, Eric and I ran in the Indianapolis mini-marathon. At times (about mile ten) I am absolutely convinced that we are CRAZY to think training and running a mini-marathon is fun. Really it’s scheduled torture. But each time I run, God reveals more about what it means to run the race He’s laid out for me.
Paul often used races as metaphors in his writings. Here are just a couple examples:
- I Corinthians 9:24 – Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
- 1 Timothy 4:8 – for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
- Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
- Hebrews 12:1 – 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,
- 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 – Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
- 2 Timothy 2:5-7 – An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
There is discipline required to run the races in life and to chase God. There are days I don’t want to run. There are days I don’t want to get up early to spend time with God. There are days my body aches from activity. There are days my soul hurts from the cares of this world. There are days my body is under fueled for the race. And there are days my spirit shrinks from approaching God.
But when I discipline my body to train for a race…when I place a checkmark next to each day’s assigned exercise, my body is strengthened so that I can complete a grueling race. My body is equipped to go faster when I push it. The race is easier because I’ve done the work.
When I am disciplined in my spiritual life, my emotions are moderated. Life is viewed through an eternal lens which gives perspective for the journey. My heart is connected to God’s, my desires meshed with His. My ears are better prepared to hear His whispered direction and His heart.