I’m not the biggest fan of physical exercise (and let’s be honest, most of us aren’t) yet most of us would agree that it’s super important to our physical and mental wellness. So I have once again decided to take up running. And this time will be different! I won’t start out sprinting day one and strain my ligament like last time. I won’t be a “know it all” and not listen to my husband asking me, pleading with me, to work my way up to 5 miles and not on the first day. This time will be different. I have 3 things going for me this go around: people are cheering me on, I’ve been humbled, my ego in check and I am focused.
It’s the same for life. We are in a race to the finish line. And we all finish. The question is- what condition are we in when we do and what legacy have we left?
Hebrews 12 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
There is so much to glean and take from these verses...
1. People are watching how you run your race.
- There are those who came before us- our mentors and teachers who are there to remind us that can do it, that our faith in Jesus allows us to do the impossible! I am grateful for my Pastors Philip and Holly Wagner’s example of running their race. Thirty-one years ago, they started our church, the Oasis and are still running strong! Their marriage has been a huge witness and encouragement to my marriage as my husband Alex and I have navigated different seasons.
- There are those who are running alongside you, so choose your friends wisely. I entered full time ministry 15 years ago and have amazing girlfriends “in it” with me for the long haul. There are also some women I started the race with who are no longer running. They got tired… some got offended. Others got distracted and they quit. Don’t quit. Choose to run with people who won’t quit and who won’t let you quit. I survived some of my worst days because a girlfriend took my hand and ran next to me, reminding me of my purpose and destiny.
- There are people coming up behind you- younger women, in either age or in faith, who are watching how you run your race. They see your interactions with other runners (your spouse, your friends, your leaders) and you help to shape how they will run their race. They watch how you worship, serve and give. Be wise and aware that others see you and will in turn, mimic you. Paul instructs others to “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) As the younger women (whether she is 70 or 7) imitate you, are you imitating Christ? Do your decisions, behaviors, and attitudes represent the Kingdom of God? I am “checking” myself daily to align with the word of God, knowing that as a leader, I am also accountable for how I not only lead myself, but others as well.
2. Attitudes and behaviors can hinder your race.
- I should have listened to my husband Alex. I had very little training or technique in running long distances. I had seen others do it so I thought I could do it too. What I lacked in skill I made up for in pride and ego. They say pride comes just before the fall and when I fell (literally), wow- did it hurt. What’s hindering your race? Where are you not allowing God to lead? Are you jumping into a relationship too soon, ignoring red flag after red flag? Are you leaving a job out of hurt or disappointment when God says to stay? Are you staying at a job out of fear and comfort when God says to step out in faith? Have you been putting off writing that book, starting that non-profit because you don’t trust that you heard from God and that He is leading you? Whatever it is, stop it! Change your attitude and behaviors, obey God and watch how He changes your life.
3. Focus is everything to your race.
- Where are your eyes looking? I ran track in high school and did well at the 400m and 800m relay. Crossing the finish line and coming in first felt good at my track meets. But in races I had to learn how not to look back and see who was gaining on me. Looking back slowed me down and I would almost always lose that race. Looking back and living in the past slows us down as well. We miss out on our present and we sabotage our future when we drown in past difficulties, hurts and pains. Our focus must be on Jesus. When we look to Him, he heals our past and gives us a hope and a future. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, He guards our hearts and minds. We are no longer overly concerned with the things of this world, rather we crave and desire the things of the Kingdom of God. (Colossians 3:2)
My prayer for you and me is that we would persevere and run in such a way that the world would seek and come to know Jesus. As a result of how we do life (our decisions, our attitude and our focus), others will make Him Savior and Lord. My final prayer is that I would re-read this blog and apply my own thoughts and persevere, giving up my long distance training/running. This is really, really hard, y’all so please pray for me!