“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I [press on], if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 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 [upward call] of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:12-14
There was a dear lady in our church who gave me a plaque that has these verses on it. She originally gave it to her husband who had passed away, and she has now also gone home to be with the Lord. I have this plaque on my desk at work to remind me of my purpose and goal. I know that life is a race and that it is not over until God calls me home.
I took up running a little late in life, starting in February 2011. I signed up for a race in April and vowed to myself that I would run every night to prepare for this race of 4.2 miles. I then altered my commitment to 3-4 times a week, and finally succumbed to whenever I would saunter my body out to hit the pavement. I ended up running only 5-6 times during that whole period leading up to the race, and never at the planned race distance of 4.2 miles. The night before the race, I met up with a friend who was running the race with me, and we indulged in Chinese food and capped the night off with ice cream. We ended up talking late into the night, and I finally crawled into bed around 1 am.
The race began at 7 am, and we woke up early on that Saturday to head to the race. My brain was in a fog and I was ill-prepared to run. I was nervous, excited and terrified for what was to come. I had thoughts of faking injury, stomach issues, or anything that would get me out of my 4.2 miles of fate. My friend and I ran the race, although I would hardly say we were running, and we stopped at every water station they had available. We finished the race, excited that we finished, but more pleased that we survived and the torture was over. We were sweaty, exhausted, and depleted of our physical resources. As I stood there hunched over, gasping for breath, I thought back to the times I wasted and did not train as I should. We vowed to do the race again the next year with the condition that we would actually train for it. I am happy to report we have run that same race ever since and do much better as we actually have taken that first year’s experience to heart and spent the time prior to the race training and preparing.
In running as in life, one is always racing against time. Each one of us is given a time allotment to run our race until God calls us home. We often promise a commitment to God, but sometimes fall prey to the lies of the devil and the allure of sin. We get sidetracked with things that hold no eternal value and we oftentimes get off course. We forget that we are in a race and that every second matters. We are told to redeem our time and we take that as simply a recommendation and not a command. We have the Word of God, church, Bible studies, podcasts, and even unlimited online preaching, but yet we do not take full advantage of these opportunities. Like Paul, we never come to a point in life where we reach the pinnacle of Christianity, but we must continue to press towards the finish line where God calls us home. We must not reach back for the things that are behind. We must leave our sins and failures behind and press on.
Where are you today friend? Are you preparing yourself to run the race well? Do you take full advantage of the opportunities God has given you? Are you sitting down on the race track as others go past you? Are you looking back at your past or have you accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ? Are you allowing your besetting sins to keep you back from attaining the prize? May we press forward for our Lord Jesus Christ, and may others see Him in our lives until we see Him face to face. Always remember why you run the race and keep in mind Who is waiting for you at the end.