The Race is On
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor June Windle Bare. This is June’s story of completing her local YMCA’s 5k race this year! Great job, June! See June’s previous devotional, Not Nice or Knot Nice here.]
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13-14 (ESV)
Every year our YMCA organizes a 10K run and a 5K walk. I walk. When I first started out participating, I had this notion that I should be able to win. Soon I learned that the winners are 30 years old, not senior citizens. The next year my goal was to win in my age class. I didn’t. But I finished. Finishing should have been the point of the race, not winning. Now we’ve come to another year. By the time you read this, the race will be history, and the only award I may receive is for finishing—a tee shirt, a coffee cup, and a card for a treat at a local restaurant. That competition isn’t terribly fierce. I had a couple of weeks to work on it, but I didn’t beat last years’ time. My goal is to enjoy the race, get in there with other people who have a like purpose, do my best, and finish.
The Apostle Paul’s metaphor doesn’t say anything about self-glory or beating the socks off someone else. So, what does he say? He says focus on the heavenly prize—the prize of God’s calling to us through Christ. He says to forget about the past—the missteps, distractions, stumbling, sins. In the day-at-a-time race, those things are not to hinder the long-term goal. Confess—forsake—press on toward the goal.
As I walk the course of the 5K, I have sub points that I press on to reach. I can’t see the end from the beginning. The course is marked each mile. I go to the first marker, set my next sight to a friend’s house where I know her son will be there with water for us. Then I get on the cross street and head for the second marker—toward the park, up the long hill, left turn, two more blocks. The finish-line. No, I won’t win, but I still get the prize of completion.
In contrast to the 5K, our spiritual race is not competitive. Rather we encourage our fellow racers. On the other hand, there are several ways that the spiritual race is like the 5K:
Distractions: We don’t want to get distracted by side issues that ignore the Gospel. Yes, there are many good issues that we as Christians must address, but to do so to the expense of the race is to get off course onto a tangent route. Each issue has a measuring stick beside it to line it up with the purpose of the Christian life.
Dawdling: Life happens. When we allow life to interject a busyness that pulls us away from our walk with the Lord, we are spiritually dawdling, no matter how busy our life becomes. To avoid the dawdle, we communicate with the One who went before and completed the race in order for us to remain on course. The Word, prayer, and then the day ahead that He gives us.
Shortcuts: On our 5K there are several cross streets that cut through to the other side of the course. Cutting through would take a mile or so off the course. If a racer attempts to sneak through that way, there are monitors at each corner to catch him. Disqualified!
Distractions, dawdling, or shortcuts—to avoid these is a matter of discipline. Paul addresses the issue of disqualification when he wrote,
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9: 27)
Discipline and training are key to the race. A well-disciplined athlete will not cheat; an athlete who has trained well is well ready for whatever the game requires. This includes discipline and training in diet and rest as well as exercise.
In the spiritual sense, our diet doesn’t simply consist of “eating up” God’s Word. It requires that we should live the Word. We take as spiritual nourishment the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) as our daily nourishment.
What is our spiritual rest? It is relying on the blood of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than striving to work our way to heaven (Hebrews 4:10).
Our race is on, because our Savior has run the race.
June is a retired nurse, poet, and widow, living in southern Georgia. Now in her eighties, she remains active in her local church. Among other church responsibilities, she teaches a Sunday school class of her peers. She writes a weekly blog on Facebook, entitled “Monday Musings.” Prior to moving to Georgia, she was a regular contributor to “The Watauga Democrat” newspaper, and “All About Women,” a monthly magazine, both in Boone, North Carolina.
Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.