So there’s this guy running this race-it’s a marathon. It’s got to be like a 12k or something. I’m not a runner so I have no idea how long or far 12k is, but it sounds like a long ways. So, he’s running this race and as far as the eye can see there is this bright yellow tape to mark out the course. I’m watching hundreds of people run this marathon. It’s so weird because usually everyone is jogging at the same pace, or about the same pace. But I’m seeing something crazy here. Some people are sprinting. Some people are jogging at different paces, and still some people are even walking. And you aren’t going to believe this…there are a ton of people not moving at all. They’re just standing around talking. They’re kind of in the way. The others have to dodge them so as to not run them over. I mean, if you’re not going to run, at least move to the side. Why are you even racing? Hello. This is the most odd marathon I’ve ever seen. But that’s not even the most shocking thing I’m seeing. The most shocking thing is that although the marathon’s course is clearly marked out, a lot (and I mean a lot) of the participants are ducking the tape and cutting across fields, backyards, alleys and corners.
Hold on…I’m going to observe from the finish line.
OK. I’m here.
There are a ton of people here waiting for and cheering for the finishers. But…there aren’t many finishers. They seem far and few in between as if most of the participants quit. Perhaps it was just too hard. Or maybe they just wore out. After all, it is a marathon. Could it be that they were disqualified for cheating? You know, ducking under the tape, clogging up the course or worse, even hindering other runners in order to gain an advantage. Where are all of the runners?
My fear, dear friends, is that many people genuinely begin the race of faith when they put their trust in Jesus, yet do not finish the race the way they could, the way they are empowered to finish. I’m not talking about a Christian losing their salvation here. The point is that as Christians, we must run the good race until the end. Christianity is not a label we proudly wear for identification purposes. Christianity is not a life defined by God’s overflowing grace alone. Christianity is a life defined by God’s overflowing grace and our response to Him. A Christian who has no outward response identified as obedience is not a Christian who has understood nor embraced the overflowing grace of God. This understanding and embracing is necessary for finishing the race of faith the way we could and the way we should…the way God designed us to finish…faithfully.
Every follower of Jesus runs the same race-the race of faith. It’s inevitable and opting out is not an option. What kind of race are you running? Are you unwisely sprinting as fast as you can in this marathon? Are you walking when you could be running? Are you just sort of standing around on the course talking and watching others? Perhaps criticizing others who are running? Or even attempting to hinder others from running so they’ll stop and talk to you? Or are you running at a solid and steady pace? How would your life in Christ be defined? Are you ducking tape in search of a better way to live life other than what God has marked out in His Word? What kind of participant are you? Are you running and competing according to the rules?
There are a cloud of witnesses cheering you on. They are at the finish line. When you cross, and every Christian will, how will you be cheered? Loudly? A dull roar? Or will there be the sound of a golf-clap? The Bible doesn’t say what kind of cheering will occur, great or small; only that there will be a cloud of witnesses. When you cross and your life is over, how will they cheer the tape-ducker? How will they cheer the critic, the cheater or the distractor? How will they cheer the unwise sprinter? How will they cheer the participant who disregarded the wisdom of God and the Word of God in the name of His forgiving grace?
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re a Christian who isn’t running a solid and steady life in Jesus Christ evidenced by an intentional and conscious effort to live completely for Him. I want to encourage you to stop ducking the tape, stop sprinting unwisely and stop standing around. You were meant for so much more. I want to encourage you to make a decision right now, my brother and sister, to let go of the way you’re running, let go of the fears and anxieties of your life, let go of your past, your present and your future and put your full trust in Jesus. Decide right now to live a life obedient to His Word. That thing you’re doing that you know is not pleasing to God…yes, that one…get ahold of a mature Christian right now, tell them about your decision and ask them for prayer. Tell someone you trust and RUN THE RACE SET BEFORE YOU, COMPETING WITH FULL FAITH, WITH FULL PASSION AND DO NOT STOP UNTIL YOU CROSS THAT LAST FINISH LINE! People are cheering you one to the point of tears. Why? Because you can do it! In Christ alone you can do it!
For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
2 Timothy 1:7
Also, if anyone competes as an athlete he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
Father, thank You for Your mercy and Your grace overflowing. You are my God and I put my trust and faith in You. Forgive me for ducking the tape and offending You. I don’t want to do that again. I want to run the race You have set before me and I want to run the way YOU want me to run. I want to You to be proud of my life. I know You love me regardless, but I WANT to please You Father. I love You. Help me run with faith, strength and endurance. And help me remove the things in my life that cause me to stumble. Send me a person to help, to be my partner in this. I love You Lord. Thank You Father!