If you were a child who grew up in America you are almost certainly familiar with the story of “The Hare and the Tortoise.” The story, one pf Aesop’s Fables, begins with a speedy hare mocking a tortoise for his slowness, asking, “Do you ever get anywhere?”
The tortoise replies, “Yes, and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”
The race begins. The hare leaves the tortoise in the dust. And you know the rest of the story. The cocky hare takes a nap only to wake and find the tortoise crossing the finish line and winning the race.
Scripture tells us that our Christian life is like a race.
We are told that we need to each run the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1) That insinuates that my race and yours may not look the same. As with the tortoise you may have been given long, strong, fast-acting legs for running quick, long and hard, while I have been given short stubby legs (spiritually speaking of course) for a slow pace and endurance to accomplish whatever purpose my Maker created me for.
Am I persevering in my calling, or am I looking around seeing others with a different calling running faster or slower and comparing myself either in pride or through feelings of inferiority? I am only asked to finish my race well, not to be like others.
The Apostle Paul indicated that he wanted to be sure he wasn’t running the race in vain. (Galatians 2:2) The word translated vain means empty. The idea would be like that of a basketball player heading the wrong way down the court and sinking a basket – it was was an empty, scoreless, useless basket for his team. It was in vain. He had put in the effort to do it when it wasn’t the “race” he was supposed to running.
Am I running the race God has laid out before me? Am I angry about the race I was assigned to run? Maybe it is the childless race, the cancer race, the unmarried race, the financially deprived race… Am I too busy looking around at others who seem to have the “fun” races to run and neglecting to give my all to the race I’m in – to focus on my basket at my end of the court?
Maybe I was running a good race and I’ve lost my drive and my passion. Paul talks to the Galatians about this too. In chapter five he asks them, “Who cut in on you to keep your from obeying the truth?” That’s a good question for us as well. Who or what is distracting you and keeping you from obeying the truth of “loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” of “going and making disciples”?
If you go to your child’s track meet or ball game, you are rooting for them to win. They are competing for an honor, a victory, a prize. In sports we compete to win. If eight runners compete in a 400 meter race, seven of the eight will lose. There will be only one first place finisher. All eight runners want to be That One.
The running the race of the Christian life is unlike that physical race. Since each of us has a race marked out by the Father for us to run, then we each have the opportunity to win our race. I am called to run my race and you are called to run your race of life. Scripture tells us that we are to run in such a way to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24) You are. I am.
Are you running for the prize? Are you living your God-called life giving it everything you’ve got like you did in that sack race in 2nd grade? Are your running for the Gold in your Christian race? Or have you stopped to socialize with all your fans who are watching? Or to get some water and sit and rest for a bit?
Let’s encourage each other. Run hard! Run your best! Give your whole heart, soul, mind and strength to running the race the Father has given you. Run to win the prize! Follow the Father. Finish strong!
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, Hebrews 12:1
I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Galatians 2:2
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24