How To Keep Running (A Spiritual Guide)

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Running is an Honest Sport

Track and field. It is such a raw sport that does an excellent job in showcasing qualities such as grit, determination, and the limitless work of God in the lives of an individual. 

For many years now I have been a runner who has strove to be an example of all of the above attributes. 

Through many years of training, I have developed enough experience to say, 

“Running is an honest sport. Liars are forced to show the truth by performance. The title of hard worker is tested in each race and if you stop, you lose. How you started means nothing if you do not finish well.”

It takes a lot of faith to cut countless hours of work from the limited length of life’s cloth for a relatively much shorter length of race. 

Track icon Usain Bolt was once recorded saying, 

“I trained 4 years to run 9 seconds and people give up when they don’t see results in 2 months.”

Ethiopian long-distance standout Haile Gebrselassie understands Bolt’s statement all too well.

He once laid a formula for the runner’s ambition to finish their race when he stated, 

“All athletes need three things: commitment, discipline and hard work. Without that it’s hard to keep running.”

Much like the runner’s drive to continuously build endurance, the Apostle Paul stands as a coach to all who are struggling to stay within the run. This is for all, who are discouraged in their faith. 

The Race

When writing to the Galatian church, Paul once was tasked with a church who joined the Body of Christ and lived fervently in His high calling. 

Yet, with the arrival of “Judaizers” from Israel, they were taught (incorrectly) that in order to be true and complete Christians that they would have to submit to the Law of Moses and the circumcision of the Jews. 

This heresy thus deemed Christ’s finished work as insufficient for their salvation.

Unfortunately, the Galatian church indulged in this teaching as promptly as they did the teaching of Paul. Such turn of events incited Paul to beg the question,

“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (Galatians 5:7)”

He assured them that their persuasion was not of God. 

When we align ourselves with The Faith, we all join The Race. 

It is a road course leading to the grand prize. This grand prize is a matter of eternal glory in Christ Jesus. 

All who are sealed in Christ Jesus will see the finish through and we should be encouraged that we are running sponsored by the creator of the universe.

As our sponsor, He equips us with all the gear needed to grind through such an enduring race. We wear the shoes of the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15)!

Nike, Adidas, New Balance, etc., have nothing that can even compare.

Which brings me to our next point.

If we are so properly equipped with the Word of God and intimately supported and sponsored by Jesus Christ, shouldn’t our performance be an easy race?

Obstacles in the Race

Being properly equipped and properly trained does not make for an easy race. It should give assurance that you can finish the race well, but it does not eliminate the many obstacles that a race brings.

Fatigue, inclement weather, tough road conditions, and competitors. 

Interestingly enough, these are all realistic things that the Christian runner must endure.

This world is nasty road course which often will turn up the heat and possibly make the Christian runner sweat and feel tired or worn. 

Yet, by the Holy Spirit we can have peace (Philippians 4:7) and are instilled with a Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind to steady ourselves past the hurt. 

Nonetheless, much like the Galatian church has rivals to The Gospel over 2,000 years ago, the Gospel has competitors today as well.

Just know, in this race, the world does not hate you. It hates the Truth which you carry. 

Look to John 15:18-27 where Jesus taught the nation of Israel about the intention behind the hate His followers will endure. Christ teaches, 

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.

But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me.”

So do not run uncertainly. Be certain that the God who has already overcome the world abides in you and you in Him (John 16:33; Galatians 2:20). He will see you through the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-26). 

Stand firm in the face of internal and external opposition. This is why Paul kept himself in subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27). Practicing (spiritually) the keys that make an athlete capable of finishing the race: Commitment (To Christ), discipline (Study of the Word), and hard work (Preaching the Gospel). 

Lay aside each weight that holds you back from putting one foot in front of the other for the Gospel’s sake (Hebrews 12:1). 

Put off the sin and flesh which clogs the arteries of the soul and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:24).

And run with patience, looking to Jesus Christ, the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

In this, we can stand firm like Paul who boldly looked into the face of death and confidently spoke the words,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

God bless and race well my friends. 

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