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Devotional for 07/07/2015

440-Yard Dash

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 3:13-14

My experience in running is limited, but when I was a fifth grader, I qualified to run the 440-yard dash in the all-city track meet. I remember that day—no fancy uniforms or Nike shoes—just a group of young people competing. As the whistle sounded and we were off and running, my coach was there urging me on. Half way through the race, I was running in third place when I realized I had spent all of my energy. I am not sure if I ever finished, but it was a good experience in how not to run a race.

There was another boy who would later become a star runner for our team, and I remember an important race he once ran. Our coach used to admonish us to never look back while we ran, but this runner did not follow the coach’s instruction. He lost because he was looking over his shoulder to see what was coming up behind him, instead of focusing on the finish line.

When I was in high school, I started in another race that is commonly called the “Christian race.” I discovered that my lessons from the track team had a spiritual application as well. The Bible tells us to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1), and the word “patience” here can be translated “cheerful endurance; consistency.” That means we must take care not to sprint ahead and then burn out early; we will need to be consistent and faithful in order to finish the Christian race. The focus verse has another running tip: “Forgetting those things which are behind, I press toward the mark.” Just as my teammate faltered because he was looking back, we will fail spiritually if our focus is on our former life of sin and defeat instead of the new life of victory Christ has given us. Our goal as Christians is not to win a special title or a gold medal, but to obtain an incorruptible crown that will not fade away. If we are to remain in the race and receive the prize, we must continually look to Jesus and our Heavenly goal.

The Christian race is both an enduring race, and an endurance race, and we can finish it through Jesus’ more-than-sufficient grace.


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