RUNNING TO WIN
"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?"
Vicki and I have taken up running.† Our son is an avid runner and has been running long distances for a long time, but it was really our daughter-in-law who inspired us to start running ourselves.† She signed up for a half-marathon (13.1 miles) a few months ago.† On the day of her race we drove over to cheer her on.† We positioned ourselves at about the 12 mile point, not knowing what to expect.† After waiting for a while and watching other runners go by we saw her come up over the hill; not walking, not struggling, but running strong.†
When you commit to something like that you are signing up for far more than a one-day event, because if you are going to run it you have to train.† Nobody just gets up on a Sunday morning, puts on a pair of shorts and running shoes and goes out for a 13 mile run.† If you tried it they would probably bring you back in a bag. You have to start small and work up to the longer distance, you have to strengthen your muscles and perfect your stride, you have to develop the necessary wind and endurance.† It takes lots of time and perseverance to get to race day.†
In the passage above Jeremiah uses a similar idea to teach God's people something about what it takes to serve God victoriously.† You know, most people get up in the morning, get themselves ready, and head out into the world to compete in the rat-race.† They struggle to meet the day's problems and they work hard not to fall behind.† Their objective isn't to win the race; itís just to get to the end of the day.† Living that way is what Jeremiah calls, "racing with men on foot."† But if that is all you've trained for, eventually the race will wear you out; you not only won't win, you won't even be able to finish.†
But listen Christian, here's the good news . . . God didn't put you in the race to lose.† He didn't call you to stumble along and struggle through life.† God has called YOU to run strong from the beginning to the end.† And more importantly, the rat-race isn't the competition that God has called you to run.† The big race is on a whole different level.† Your race isn't against flesh and blood.† Your battles are spiritual.† They are with principalities and powers, not with other people.† Your victory isn't about a paycheck or a promotion or winning a medal; it is about glorifying God and following Christ all the way to the goal line.†
So how do you run strong?† How do you keep going?† How do you achieve victory when the way is hard and the competition seems impossible to beat - when you have to compete with horses?† The answer is, let God supply the power.† Let His strength keep you going.† Be confident that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" --Php. 1:6.† In the spiritual race it isn't about your athleticism, itís about God's power, purpose, plan, and faithfulness.
Vicki and I are signed up to run a 5K in a couple of weeks.† We have been walking regularly for quite a while, but have only been running for a little over a month.† It has been quite amazing to us to see how our endurance has increased in that amount of time.† When we started we could only run about a quarter of a mile before we would have to stop and walk.† As of today, we have run the 5K distance (3.1 miles) a couple of times and have actually started working to not only finish, but to increase our speed.† The hardest thing for us was to believe that we could do it and actually start.† Running strong for God is pretty much the same.† First you have to believe that God created you to run, and then you have to get into the big race.† I just want you to know that you can not only compete with the "horses," you can be victorious.† Not because you are strong but because your God is Almighty.† "The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights" -- Hab. 3:19.
--- Pastor Keith Andrews