Paul uses running a race as a symbol of the faithful Christian life many times in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1-2). And not that Paul needs my approval (nor the Holy Spirit who inspired the words), but I think it is a good picture.
Life really does feel like a race. A race where you can’t really predict the course or know what lies ahead, but you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking the next best step, sometimes praying for the energy to do so. We move forward, and we all want to do that well. Move forward in confidence and with the peace of knowing we are running our race obediently.
And I think that is more where we get hung up. Not the life is a race part of this whole picture, but the good race. The endured race. The race run well. How do we do that? Are we doing that? How do I know that I am doing that?
And then in our questioning, usually, instead of “looking to Jesus,” like the scripture says, we look all around. And we see the race that others are running. We wonder how they got where they are, and if where they are is better? And what secrets do they have that we don’t that keeps them moving, and would I be better if I knew what they knew? We wonder why people ahead of us seem faster and is that better or the people behind us seem slower and is that in some way better?
We have to remember that when Paul talks about this in the passage in 1st Corinthians, he starts it off by reminding us that we are a part of a body–we are “surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses.”
Those of the faith who have come before, those who are with us now, and those that will follow us. The community of believers is what inspires us to run the race. Because we are running it together. So we are not meant to look all around and start attributing value to the differences we see in the races that are being run. We are meant to learn from and celebrate in community all the ways that God is working and moving and healing and redeeming.
And I think somewhere that is where we’ve maybe been a little off course in how to run our races well because we have turned it into a completely individual thing. You just put your blinders on, don’t even think about what other people are doing, and just focus on yourself.
But, sometimes, you need others. And if the people that are surrounding you are also looking to Jesus as they run their race, those are the people you want to look over and see running next to you. It is a good thing to see others–to take off our blinders.
I think in fearing so much that we would look at someone else’s story and feel jipped somehow in our own, we’ve forgotten to try and look at how our stories are different and celebrate all the ways that God works to bring people to Him and to bring His people together.
So, run your race well by looking to Jesus, running with others, and comparing to celebrate instead of attributing value. Ultimately, running your race well is about your obedience to Jesus. If you are seeking Him with all that you are, you have no need to fear that your race will be run well.
Are you looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Molly Pontius: email@example.com
Debra Kirby: firstname.lastname@example.org