Saturday, February 09, 2013

Off to the Races

This morning I competed in my second race in as many months. Whereas the 5K I ran in January was hill after hill after hill, today's 5K was largely flat with just a few inclines. I was able to run most of the race and finished with a time that was really good for me.

Once again I was reminded of several spiritual lessons that come from running. There were many volunteers along the race route, some shouting words of encouragement, some holding signs with encouraging messages and scriptures on them, some offering cold cups of water at the halfway mark. There's nothing like having people cheer you on to keep you going, especially when you feel like you don't have much gas left in your tank.

As I got closer to the finish line and saw the crowd surrounding it, many who had finished the race but stuck around to cheer the rest of us on, I thought about that wonderful image in the book of Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 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 12:1-3)

Another lesson I thought of was the importance of leaving burdens behind. I made the mistake of dressing for the reading on the thermometer at the start of the race (low 40s) rather than anticipating working up a sweat while running. The fleece jacket I wore that was oh-so-cozy at the starting line quickly became a burden once I got into a good run.

Likewise, spiritually speaking the race is so much easier to run when we have a lighter load on our backs. Granted, we all have different burdens to deal with that we may not have control over--health issues, family issues, financial issues, work issues, and sometimes all of the above and more--but as followers of Christ we don't have to carry that load by ourselves. We also have to learn to lay down those burdens that we choose to pick up sometimes, such as worry or jealousy or insecurity, that can really weigh us down.

This afternoon I registered for my third race of the year, coming up in just three weeks. I'm enjoying the physical challenges that these races give me as well as the spiritual lessons I'm learning. Looking forward to seeing what God's going to teach me at the next race!

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