The New Year's Day Run

Well, the first day of 2018 is already over and what a day it was! The Lord was faithful and while it wasn’t the day I would have chosen and planned, it was a day where I felt the Lord was truly at work.
It wasn’t perfect by any means, yet I praise the Lord for yet another day He granted me to live for His glory and honor!I was able to close the first day of the year in a very fitting way, by listening to an assorted passages of Scripture from the New Testament while I ran a few miles on our treadmill.
As I ran, spiritual metaphors kept coming to mind...

Running Track

I started off strong, yet it didn’t take too long for the difficulty to start ramping up.
The treadmill belt kept slipping due to the coldness of the garage, a slight pain started in my side, and the mental battle to keep putting one foot in front of the other arose in full force.
Yet, the Word of God continued to be projected forth from the Bluetooth speaker on my left, spurring me to press on. As I reached the final third of my run, full exhaustion began to set in. I remarked about the difficulty and the pain out loud and no sooner had the words left my lips that this verse rang loud and clear through the speaker - “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”
I set my face like flint and kept running. I locked my gaze in on a gallon of anti-freeze ahead of me and did not turn my eyes aside to the left or to the right.

As I ran staring at the pink liquid, I was reminded of how easy it is to look around us and become enamored with the things of this world. Speaking from the actual, physical running stance, looking around and behind one's self and not setting one’s eyes forward towards the goal deters and slows you down.

We must keep our eyes locked in on the gallon of anti-freeze, or speaking in the spiritual sense, we must keep our eyes on Jesus! We cannot allow the things that glitter and glimmer in this world to catch our eye and distract us from the true and only prize worth running for! (Philippians 3:14)

As I ran that night, I set a pace and stuck to it. I kept steadily pressing on and wouldn’t allow myself to slow down or speed up, (Not that I had any desire to speed up. :)
Brothers and sisters, how easy it is to burst forward in a shot of speed, overextending ourselves in ministry and service to the point of utter exhaustion.
How easy it is to slow down, to allow apathy to set in and to become lackluster about spiritual things. Oh, how easy it is to flip from one extreme to the other!
Yet, life is not a sprint, it is not a walk, rather it is a marathon. A steady, tempo pace that the Lord sets for us, that should be our goal. Right in step with the Spirit, not a step ahead, not a step behind, rather in perfect synchronization. (Galatians 5:25)

As the exhaustion and discouragement set in throughout the run, I took heart in the timely verses that emanated from the recording, touched by the passion and love for the Lord evident in the voices of those who read. With fellow believers behind me, I ran hard and steady to the finish line!
Allow me to be clear, there are no Lone Rangers in the Christian life. God has given each of us the fellowship of the believers to encourage and spur us on toward Him! He has given us one another!

So let us spur one another on toward the prize with encouragement. Let us lovingly call out one another when it is needed. Let us acknowledge error or weights in our lives and throw them off. Let us be steadfast and diligent in prayer for one another! (Hebrews 10:24-25, Romans 15:30)

Friend Runners Silhouettes

Finally, there was satisfaction as I crossed my set goal of mileage and with it a realization that the pain, the discouragement, the sweat, the exhaustion, and the difficulty was all worth it and more.
So it is with our spiritual race brothers and sisters! It is hard, it is painful, and sometimes we just feel like giving up, but it is worth it!
May we keep our eyes on Christ, pressing on after Him, till the day we shall see His face!

Then I began the painful, grueling cool down despite the fact that I wanted to drop and be done just as in the spiritual realm…wait a moment, there isn’t a parallel here.
When we reach home, there won’t be the need for an unwinding because the moment we cross the finish line we shall reach glorification and be made perfect in word, mind, thought and deed without a trace of the sinful nature to be found present in us. We shall be just as our Savior is for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)

Well, I guess the cool down is the reminder that all analogies fall short of the spiritual reality they attempt to describe and portray. :)
I suppose there is the fact that we still live in a fallen world where pain and utter exhaustion still exist. We are not home...yet.
So press on dear brothers and sisters in this new year! The Lord is faithful, the race is worth running and eternity is right around the corner!

"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:14