Why Are You Running by Larry W. Peebles February 24, 2017 17.06
From the time I was a small boy, I loved to run. My two favorite games involved running. The kids in my neighborhood would play chase in the evenings until we had to come inside for dinner, homework, or bedtime. We played over a large area of several city blocks. The kids all gathered at an agreed “home base”. Someone was selected to be “it”. That person hid their eyes while everyone else ran off to hide. The person who was “it” then had to run all through the neighborhood looking for the kids who were hiding, and when he spotted one, the race was on to beat them back to the “base”. The loser of that race became “it”, and the game continued with all players looking for new hiding places. It seemed like we ran non-stop for hours on end.
My second favorite game was something I could do alone, or with another friend. We would just see how fast we could run. This could be a two or three person race to a finish line, complete with all the usual arguing over whether or not we got a fair start, and who made it to the finish first. The arguing almost always resulted in running the race again, which no one minded. If I was alone, I would just run as fast as I could, then see if I could not run even faster–“hit another gear”, so to speak. If I felt I had hit the additional speed, then I would attempt to run even faster. This went on until the point of exhaustion. After a rest, I would start over running through all the gears again at increasingly faster speeds.
I think I was born with this love to run. My brothers are all taller than me; they got their height from Mom’s side of the family. My Dad was shorter than Mom, but he had speed in high school football and track. I think I inherited his speed. I ran junior high and high school track and cross country. Upon graduation I received a scholarship to run track at the community college level. I continued to run for fitness and conditioning for most of my adult life because I liked it. It became my time alone with God. I could run and pray. Early morning running became early morning prayer-time. I cannot count the times I found strength, courage and solutions to the day’s problem in those early morning prayers while running.
The Bible compares the process of building and growing our faith to running a race. I love the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18. By the word of God, Elijah had told King Ahab (who “had done more to provoke the Lord than any king before him”) there would be a drought in the land. Three years later, after Elijah had called down fire from Heaven on Mt Carmel and killed the 450 false prophets of Baal, Elijah prophesied the rain would come to break the drought. He told Ahab “Hitch up your chariot and go down [from Mt. Carmel] before the rain stops you.” [Insert mine.] Then the Bible says in 1 Kings 18:46—“The power of the Lord came upon Elijah, and tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.” God gave Elijah the speed and endurance to outrun a horse-drawn chariot. God will give us the strength to complete the Christian race laid out before us.
The following scriptures present a clear comparison of our faith challenge and running. I have grouped them into three categories.
- We run for perseverance. Hebrews 12:1 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.” Training, conditioning, and then persevering through the race builds confidence we can succeed. Hebrews 10:35-36 says—“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” In Romans 5: 2-5, Paul writes —“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
- Run to finish. While I was blessed with speed, I definitely learned many more life lessons from training/running a long distance marathon. The objective was to finish the run after having tested yourself physically and mentally in every way imaginable over the 26-mile course. 2 Timothy 4:7 says—“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9: 25—“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Finally, consider Philippians 2: 15-16—“…in a crooked and deprived generation, …you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” We must finish what we start as we bring Jesus, the very word of life, to a deprived world.
- Run to win the prize. Check out these four scriptures that relate the Christian life to running. First, from Philippians 3: 13-14—“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Paul also writes in 1 Corinthian 9: 24—“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Then, 2 Timothy 4: 8 says—“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Finally, from James 1: 12—“blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
The Bible is very clear that the Christian faith-walk is not without its trials. This is where we trust in, cling to, and rely upon God for everything needed in our lives. It is similar to a sports competition where training to overcome fatigue, perseverance, stamina, dedication to the cause, and an eye on the finish or prize is necessary. The goal must occupy the forefront of our heart and mind. The resistance or opposition is overcome spiritually, physically, and mentally.
We are all running. I am convinced there is no middle ground–we are either running toward/with God, or away from Him. There is no standing still. I heard a pastor say that when we mess up, we tend to run away from God. He strongly encouraged when we mess up, that is the very time to run toward God–as fast as we can, and say “I messed up, please forgive me”. God will forgive, take us back and help us. It so important to get back in the race quickly when we take a wrong turn on the course, or need a break to take water or tend to an injury. While He loves us unconditionally, our daddy God loves for us to make the effort to run and chase Him. Unlike the game I played as a child, He allows us to catch Him. This is why we run.