The Mile Markers

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

I recently celebrated a birthday and this event is always a time for me to reflect on the previous year and make changes as needed. I like to measure myself to where I was a year ago, and where I am in comparison to years’ past. Obviously, there are things out of my control as I age, as the little athleticism I did have goes down like the sand in an hour glass. I can always improve in the spiritual department as age can lead to maturity as well as growth in the areas of God’s wisdom and understanding. I started to weigh myself to see where I am there as well, so I know if I am gaining or losing as the years go by. Weight can easily be added without one even really noticing until it is quite noticeable and problematic. One of my birthday traditions is to go for a run on my birthday just to ensure I still can, and I am thankful I was still able to do so this year.

This annual activity also helps as I often sign up for a race that takes place a few days after my birthday. The race is not too far in distance, but it will sneak up on you if you do not train for it. There is one big hill and a couple of other places in the race that requires you to run at an incline. I was in decent shape this year, but there have been some years when I did not train like I should have and the thoughts ran through my mind while running the race condemning my poor decision. It never fails that whenever I have struggled in a race, my mind reminds me of all the times I could have trained but simply pushed it to the side in lieu of doing something else that I wanted to do more. I would stare at the mile markers as I passed them and it seemed to take forever to go from one to the next

As I was running recently in this past race and saw the mile markers as I passed them, I thought of my life. A mile marker signifies years or even decades God has given me, seasons when I have allowed Him to work in my life and other seasons when I was so entangled in my own flesh and sin that I blew Him off and did not even desire to do what was right. I had trained for this particular race, so I did not have regrets of not training and the mile markers came sooner than I had anticipated. I refused to walk in this race, even when it became tough and even when it seemed the hill would never end. I was thankful that I was able to finish the race in the time I was hoping to make and that God kept me from injury.

I finished the race and immediately searched for my official time on the race website. I was able to locate my time, and I was eager to see how I did and what my mile splits were. My goal is to get stronger as the race goes along, which should be reflected in my time. My dad told me that you want to have a “kick” at the final leg of the race. You want to be able to empty the tank and charge toward the finish line and not just hope you make it to the finish line. I think of that in the spiritual context as well as we know not when our last day will be. Are we drawing closer to God the older we get, or are we falling back into bad habits and the sin which so easily entangles us in the race of life? Are we able to look back on the “mile markers” of life and see spiritual growth or have we grown stagnant and find ourselves walking in the race? Do we quit on the hills and valleys of life, or are we drawing closer to our God?

Where are you in the race of life? What mile marker are you at? Are you running the race to win the prize or are you running the race to please yourself? Where are you spiritually from where you were a year ago, five years ago, five weeks ago? Are you growing in Christ or have you become stagnant? May we grow every day God gives us breath, and we make spiritual adjustments to look like Christ. Time is short like the sands of time, and one day we will all give an account to God of how we ran the race. Let us not be filled with excuses and regret, but may we be thankful for God’s changing power and the beauty of sanctification.

Stay in the Fight!

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