Author: Donia Hovet
Let’s start by reading the scripture.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.Hebrews 12:1b-3 (NIV)
I just love that the Bible includes running as a metaphor for following Jesus because I have been a runner for almost three decades. I began running cross-country as a freshman in high school. Training was rigorous: a mile warm-up on a narrow shoulder of the highway, produce trucks blasting past; several miles of light speed work on the track; the main work out-hill repeats, speed pyramids, or long endurance runs. We’d finish with the same mile cool-down that we began with, the smell of rotting tomatoes wafting up in the triple-digit Sacramento heat. Day in and day out, we’d sweat and burn and grind through in preparation for race day.
One race in particular jumps to mind. Winds were blowing 60 miles per hour. The trail was hilly, the terrain uneven. The clouds hinted darkly at rain. It was an unfamiliar course, but I got a good start and found myself in first position with 300 athletes in my wake. Mid-way through the race, I approached a fork in the road. Unsure of which way to go and with no guide, I made a split decision. But out of the corner of my eye I could see the rest of the runners had gone the other direction. Lungs burning, frustrated, and with tears pricking my eyes, I retraced my steps and attempted to regain lost time.
As the writer of Hebrews tells us, life with Jesus is like a race and we must fix our eyes on HIM. We have to keep our heads up, alert to his direction. Race conditions vary GREATLY. During this season in particular, we are running in the shadows, winds are high, the trail is rocky and unpredictable. Looking back at 14-year-old-Donia, I’m alerted to the fact that it is all too easy to take a wrong turn when the course is unfamiliar and the weather forecast is ominous.
So what do we do?
Point ourselves in the direction of Jesus. Train with Jesus. Stay with Jesus. Day in and day out, we must be devoted to the way of Jesus so that we can finish the race. Paul says:
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. 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. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)
It’s training day, my friends. Take a minute and reflect on some of your training regimens:
- Bible Time: How often do I read my Bible?
- 1-2 Times a Week
- 3-5 Times a Week
- Prayer Time: Am I practicing a well-rounded prayer rhythm that includes more than just my requests? Rate your ACTS: Adoration (of God), Confession (& Repentance), Thanksgiving, and Supplication (requests). 1-poor; 5-excellent.
- Adoration: 1 2 3 4 5
- Confession: 1 2 3 4 5
- Thanksgiving: 1 2 3 4 5
- Supplication: 1 2 3 4 5
- Serving and community participation: How am I giving my life away?
- Serving: 1 2 3 4 5
- Giving/Tithing: 1 2 3 4 5
- Community Group Attendance: 1 2 3 4 5
- Connecting with other believers via phone/text/zoom: 1 2 3 4 5
- What are some next steps I need to take as I point toward Jesus?
Honest self-evaluation is a catalyst for redirection and essential for training well. Sometimes we take a wrong turn or stumble. God’s grace is sufficient to re-orient us into his goodness, his plan, and the way of Jesus. Let’s be those who train well and point our WHOLE lives toward Jesus.
Heads up, my friends! Don’t lose heart. HOPE is alive and well when we point ourselves toward Jesus.