“On your marks…Get set…BANG!” The gun resounded and echoed through the surroundings of the meet while spectators cheered on with enthusiastic encouragement towards the runners of the 1500 meter.
Running this middle distance race takes “endurance”, “quick speed”, “proper form” and “mental focus” (Livestrong.com). According to Coach Jay Johnson, anyone who is up for the challenge must have consistency, be willing to curb extra curriculars, become inspired, and attend to maintenance, but avoid becoming self-obsessed. (Coachjayjohnson.com)
The same principals of training for a distance race can be applied to living a Christian life.
Be consistent: Some of the most problematic errors in Christianity have stemmed from Christians marring the image of what is means to be a Christian. Their hypocrisy has caused more turmoil within the church leaving those who are followers of Christ to clean up the wreckage. A Christian by definition is not a religion, but a lifestyle based on faith and loving like Jesus. Anything less is an inconsistent representation of Christianity.
“The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.” (Proverbs 11:9)
Be willing to cut extra curriculars: Self-discipline is not an easy habit to establish especially when the enemy knows how to constantly push our buttons of weakness. When we become involved in too many committees, volunteer hours, or any other activity that overloads us and keeps us from being focused on the race ahead, it’s time to eliminate the extras. If our calendars are filled from morning to night shuttling from one station to the next, all God receives are our leftovers. He deserves much more than second best.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
Become inspired: God places desires within our hearts for a reason, to keep us focused on the finish line. Our lives become more satisfying when we can freely give away heart felt gifts of time, patience, money, a listening ear, or a spoken word.
“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,…” (Hebrews 12:4)
Attend to Maintenance: No one can expect their vehicle to not break down if they don’t’ keep it maintained. Staying consistent in God’s word and filtering everything we say and do through His truth is required maintenance for our souls. Spending time in his presence gives us the opportunity to express our deepest heartfelt cries to God. Also, we are not called to sit idle down the track, but we must be placed in gear to move forward.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Avoid Becoming Self-Obsessed: Pity parties are for the self-absorbed. When our focus for the race becomes inwardly driven and a me, me, me attitude resounds out from our hearts, then a significant change needs to immediately take place. The race is not about us. It is filling up with His love and overflowing onto others.
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown,brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
The race we are called to run is not as short as 1500 meters, but the length is eternal. How we discipline ourselves and run the race is a decision we all must chose; follow Christ or follow the world.
What do you do to keep yourself from quitting the race?