Chapter 4 ~ Running our Race!

Chapter 4
God Sees My Choices

Our Christian life is like a race.  We know that, right?  Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us of that fact.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
I am not a runner.  I have noticed though that running has become a very popular sport for many to pick up.  My sister was just in a 5k and I say koodoes to her!  I work out in the privacy of my living room though and I usually work out with a coach on my tv who seems to take pleasure in watching those she is training die a slow and painful death 🙂  Exercising gets our blood flowing!  We can choose to make healthy eating choices but if we are not coupling that with exercise we are not going to be very strong.  We may have healthy innards, but our muscles aren’t going to be strong because they haven’t been worked.
When I am working out I am following a video and I often watch those around my coach  who are also working out and they seem to hardly break a sweat and look lean and trim.  It can be easy to compare my body to theirs and get my mind off of the task at hand.  Exercise!  It takes   concentration to focus on my own work out.  The goal is to become healthy and strong.  My workout instructor is there encouraging me to push my hardest if I want to get the results!
This Christian life is like this.  We have Christ as our Teacher, the One encouraging us to keep running well!  The author on page 78 reminds us that this race is not against other Christians and I think that is a GREAT reminder.  Just as I can tend to take my eyes off of my instructor while working out I also can sometimes compare myself to others and taken my eyes off of Christ.  I see how so many Christians are running their race incredibly well and seem to not be stumbled by trials.  They seem so…. perfect and I seem to fall on my face regularly!   No, our Christian race is not against other Christians, it is simply a race, a marathon to Christ!  We will all meet Christ one day and I know that each of us wants to hear Him say, “Well done”.
Instead of racing or competing against other Christians, we are actually competing with our Enemy, Satan.  Our competition is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers!  It is a spiritual warfare.
Each of us has a race to run that is uniquely designed for us.  God has certain plans and purposes that only you can fulfill.  A race only you can run!  Sometimes we do get tripped up looking at others and their unique race and talents and the author is completely right when she says that we oftentimes spend our time wishing we could run someone elses race!   We lose our joy for running our own race well when that happens!

If your journey of faith is a race toward Jesus and away from the Enemy, how do you feel you are doing?  Take a minute to consider how you are running your race.  Do you feel enthusiastic or tired?  Are you running along nicely?  I think it is true of all of us that we all have times where we are jogging well but there are times when we do get tired.
What is your specific need at this time in your race?  It isn’t a bad idea to ask the Lord to provide that need.  Maybe you need some encouragement!  Maybe you need a friend.  Maybe there are some weights that need to be set aside.  Whatever it is that you need, you can be sure that the Lord would love to meet that need for you!
Is there a weight that is holding you down?  What might be some weights that are real that each of us could possibly relate to?
I think one weight that we can all have would be the weight of trying to do this all on our own.  Sometimes I try to do that. Those days tend to not be very good ones!  Sometimes those weights on our shoulders cause us to lose heart in our race and sometimes it can cause us to eventually lose faith all together because we see no point in carrying on.  This is not how Christ intended for us to live the Christian life! He truly desires to see us be victorious!
There have been a few times in my own life where I have felt like tossing in the towel.  I don’t know that I would ever “turn to the dark side” but there have been times when I have been so hurt that I felt like saying what is the point?  There are other times in my Christian walk when I have seen God at work and I KNOW He is using little ole’ me!  My spirits are high and I am feeling encouraged!  I have been on the mountain top!  It reminds me kind of like the Israelites!  They would see God work and they would live right for awhile, but then when things got bad they doubted God and would turn away.  We can give the Israelites a bad rap sometimes, but I honestly don’t know if I would be any better than they were!  This sin nature can sometimes get the better of me.
In order to cast off our weights, in order to put aside our hindrances, we have to make the choice to do so!  We have been teaching our children that they make choices every day.  Sometimes those choices are good and sometimes those choices are bad.  Sometimes they like to blame each other for their wrong choices but we want them to understand that ultimately, they choose to do right or wrong.  Same with us, we have to make the conscious effort to throw off whatever it is that is pulling us out of our race.
God has made us with a free will, we all know that.  God desires for us to choose to honor Him in every part of our lives.  He longs for us to seek His wisdom when it comes to decisions we have to make and how we need to live our lives.  He did not make us robots for a reason.  He wants us to use our free will to love Him and run after Him.  When we are raising children doesn’t it just melt your heart to hear your children tell you they love you all on their own?  When they do things just because they know it will please you?  How much more does it move the heart of God to see us do the same for Him!
Jeremiah 29:12 says, “ Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”
As we all know, God WANTS us to talk to Him.   Not only does God want us to talk to Him but He wants to speak to us as well!  As we are seeking Him He will reveal His will, His path, our lane of the race, to us!
How hard is it to WAIT?  In our society we like things instantly!  We like our drive-through experience to happen within minutes, we hate to be on hold, heaven help us if our internet page will load in 2.3 seconds, and seriously, why doesn’t God open doors as quickly as he seems to shut them?  Sometimes we are ready to race ahead LONG before God is ready to show us His next step for our lives.  My husband and I have seen our patience tested these past several months as we wait on the Lord to reveal His clear and perfect will for our family.  That can be just plain hard!
God’s Word is chalk full of verses about waiting on God,
Psalm 27:14,  “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Trust the Lord that He knows what is going on.  He knows right where we are in our race.  He doesn’t want us looking longingly or even begrudgingly at those running beside us.  How many times have I said to my children, “Don’t worry about what they are doing, you just make sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing!”
I love how the author says on page 89, “You and I need to faithfully trust God in times when our race feels unfair and continue looking to our almighty God.  When you feel the burn, keep going!”   Have you ever done squats?  Did you feel the burn?  In order to get results we want we have to push past that burn don’t we?  We have to keep on exercising to see the results.  God wants us to keep on running.  Run when life is going smoothly, run when it seems like life is topsy turvy.
Keep seeking Him, keep your eyes on Him, keep on running!!

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