“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win” [1 Corinthians 9:24, TLB].
When it comes to the Olympics, my favorite part is the track races. Seeing men and women of all nations line up on their respective running lanes, striving for the prize to earn the title of the best runner. However, each runner just doesn’t run for running sake. With each race, there are specific rules of engagements including how long each race is, and what qualifies or disqualifies each runner in the race. When we become born again, we each join a race with the aim of winning the crown of life. However, unlike Olympic participants who chose which race they wish to partake in, our individual race has been predetermined for us before the foundation of the world.
The first thing to note about the race of life is that each person has their own individual race. Each person was born into this world under their own unique circumstances and have their own unique experiences. No two races are the same, and therefore it would be futile and somewhat detrimental to compare your race to another person’s or even try to run their race. Imagine Usain Bolt deciding to leave his lane into the lane of another runner in a 100m race, simply because he thinks the other lane gives him a better chance of winning, or even simply because he doesn’t like his lane. We can picture what the end result would be, which would be a collision of two runners on a lane that was meant for one. Consequently, both runners lose out and may even be disqualified. When it comes to the race of life, run YOUR OWN race and never compare your life and race with that of another. Afterall, when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ to give an account of the life we lived, it will be for what we were called to do and not for what another person was called to do. That is why we are called to “work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)” [Philippians 2:12, AMP].
The next thing to be cognizant of is that, once you start running your race there is no looking back. When we read the story of the Israelites, it is very easy for us to judge them by their constant murmuring and disobedience to the Lord. Afterall, why would they consistently long for the cucumber of Egypt, when God was taking them to a land flowing with milk and honey This would be a land that will be theirs, without they being slaves to another. Yet, they longingly looked back to what they had grown accustomed to even when they were heading towards a place of rest. So, instead of a 40-day journey, it took 40 years to enter in into what God had prepared for them. This is what happens when you run and keep looking back, instead of focusing on the prize ahead. Apostle Paul admonishes us to forget “the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.” [Philippians 2:13, Phillips]. Egypt and Sodom have nothing good to offer to you. All you need in this life was given to you when you came into the kingdom of light. There is no looking back at the “shoulda”, “coulda”, “woulda”, because all those would have lead to one result; spiritual death. So unlike Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt and the Israelites who lost valuable time in enjoying a land already prepared for them, we are not of them that look back. Amen!
There is no denying that there are many distractions that would be thrown our way to prevent us from reaching the finishing line. It can come from yourself, other runners, viewers, the field itself, etc. Sometimes these distractions may even come from well-meaning people, with well-meaning intentions. But the end result is that it keeps you from running effectively. That is part of the race of life, but the question is “are you going to allow the distractions of life steer you out of your lane, cause you to stumble or cause of you to become faint hearted”? The runner who runs to win knows that the surest way to win is to tune their ears out to the distraction and to keep their gaze on the finished line. As we run this race we do so by “looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith (the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity)” [Hebrews 12:2, AMP]. Don’t look to the north, south, east or west but only to Jesus. No man died and was raised for you but Jesus. In this race, He is your standard and He is your help!
Remember, we are in this race to win because our Lord Jesus won the victory and has shown us how to win. So what do we do? We buckle up and keep running in our lane single-eyed, with eyes fixed on the Master. There is no looking back or looking around because we have a crown waiting and the accolades of the Master waiting for us. So whatever it takes, run and by all means run to win!