In running, one wrong turn can be extremely costly.
A couple years ago, I was running a long-distance race that took me through unfamiliar neighborhoods in Wichita. As the course weaved through a fitness a trail, I got distracted and missed a sign advising me to turn off of the trail and back onto neighborhood streets. I was unaware of mistake until I reached a street I knew by a lack of course markings was not part of the course. I spent the next few minutes slowly retracing my steps back on the trail until I finally reached the missed turn and found my way back onto the course.
On a cold, rainy day in an already grueling race, the blunder only added to the fatigue and frustration I was already feeling, costing me unnecessary time and energy.
The same can easily happen as we run our race of life, as well. Daily life is full of distractions and temptations that can easily take us off course if we are not consistently on our guard.
Therefore, it is essential we always keep the finish line in mind as we run. And, as Paul writes to the church at Corinth, this means we always have to remember why we run.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27-27, ESV
We do not run for the temporary, we run for the eternal. We do not run for ourselves, but to shine the spotlight on the One who died to give us hope.
Every step we take, we take for a purpose, with perseverance, determination and self-control. We do not dictate our own steps, but instead keep focused on the One who marked out our course.
As David prays in the Psalms, so should we each day run with this eternal mindset:
“Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133 ESV)
Staying the course as we run our race, then is not something we do every once in a while, whenever we feel like it. It’s a process which must take place through daily. And Luke tells us how the early church stayed the course in the face of unimaginable adversity.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayer.” (Acts 2:42, ESV)
Like the rainy race in Wichita, unfortunately I have too many times let life’s distractions take me off course, only to find myself lost and adding to my own physical, mental and emotional.
In Hebrews we are told to “throw off” everything that keeps us from running the race of faith. We only do this by taking stock of our own hearts daily, and being willing to let go of the things that hold us back.
So I encourage you today to dig in, keep your gaze forward, and guard your heart. Fix your gaze on the cross and the empty tomb and remember your purpose.
Stay the course and finish the race strong.
Daniel Kiewel is a reporter for the Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.