The apostle Paul loved to compare the Christian life to a race. Here are a few examples from Scripture:
Acts 20:24 "I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me"
1 Corinthians 9:24 -25 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
I love this analogy of how just like a runner concentrates on the finish line, we as Christians should concentrate on Jesus. He is our finish line. At the end of our lives here on earth, we will get to stand in awe of His glory. What an awesome prize!!!
I want to go beyond the finish line, though. I want to focus on the race itself today, and this is why:
I had an opportunity this weekend to walk/run in the Indy500 mini marathon. It was an awesome experience that I will never forget. Close to 40, ooo people lined up to compete in this race. Thousands of volunteers and loved ones lined the streets to cheer participants on and hand out drinks. The spirit that surrounded the event was intoxicating. Even though my mind was clearly set on the finish line, I couldn't help but get caught up the excitement around me. I set out to walk in the race, but actually ended up running some of it because I was inspired by the other runners.
Also, I had forgotten my ipod, and thought I might get bored along the way. I need my David Crowder Band to get me through the thirteen miles! To my surprise, however, the participants around me and the people on the street were my source of strength and perserverance.
For example, I saw an elderly man and his wife walking, holding hands. He was hunched over, barely moving his feet. Yet, I heard several runners go by with an encouraging word to them. One woman said, "I am proud of you." I also saw a young woman in tears, about to give up. Her friend grabbed her by the arm and said to her, "You can do this! Only a few more miles left. Let's do it together." Strangers along the way cheered and clapped and rang cow bells, yelling our names, "Kristi, you are doing a great job! Keep going!" (Our names were on our bibs.) Little kids held their hands out to be high-fived.
I loved looking around me and seeing people encouraging each other. If I had worn my ipod and focused just on finishing the race, I would have missed out on this part of the experience. I think my race as as a follower of Jesus is similar. Christ wants us to see the people around us during our race. He wants us to focus on the finish line, but also reach out and support one another as we go.
Also, if we are excited about Christ, people we see every day will be more likely to want what we have, and may start running the race too!
Christ definitely wants us to focus on Him as the prize for fighting the good fight, but He also wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit and share that part of Him with others along the way. One of my favorite Scriptures is in Hebrews. I have it on a post it note in the bathroom (okay, don't laugh..... it's a place you visit often, right?)
"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.... let us encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:24-25)
In your race, don't forget to look around you. Some days you may be inspired by other believers, and other days, you may be the one doing the encouraging.
How can you spur on someone today?
Father God, you are the beginning and the end of our race. We thank you for placing people in our lives to encourage us. Please help us to open our eyes to those who need our encouragement today.