Life’s a Marathon

Life is not a 50-yard dash; it is a marathon.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. — Hebrews 12:2

Get your mind off your circumstances and your problems and focus on God’s goodness to you in the past, his closeness to you in the present and his power to help you in your future.

Jonah said while he sat in the belly of the fish:When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord.” — Jonah 2:7

The Christian life is a grueling race that entails many hills and valleys. You need discipline and a sustained effort to make it to the end. This is not a race against others, you are not competing against other believers. We have no choice but to run this race, none of us can sit this one out.

So how best can we run this race? How can we run it as well as we are able?

Lay aside anything that encumbers you.

Something that encumbers you is something weighs you down, unnecessary baggage. Ancient Greek runners would run naked, they wanted nothing to slow them down. We must remove anything that slows us down during the race.

Example: You don’t have time during your day to read the Bible or pray. But you can find time to read the newspaper or browse foxnews.com to keep abreast of the latest world news. Could you set aside the news and spend that time reading a few verses of scripture? Could you set aside 10 minutes of sleep, set your alarm just a little bit earlier and spend that extra time in prayer?

Lay aside sins that entangles us.

Sin is differentiated from something that simply encumbers you. It does more than just slow you down. It trips you up and keeps you from running at all. You wouldn’t wear a long robe while running a race, it would entangle your legs and trip you up. You must remove sin from your life, if you want to run the race without tripping.

But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. — James 1: 14-15

A simple straight forward verse. Sin begins in the mind, with our thoughts. You are prideful because you think more highly of your actions than of Gods. You lust after others first in your mind with desire. You are greedy, because you want more “stuff”. If you cut it off at that level, it goes no further. If you stop your sin, while they are still just thoughts, you won’t put them into action. However if you entertain those thoughts, dwell on them and ponder on them, they grow into sinful words and actions. If you are acting upon those sins, you are not running the race along the course that God has set for you.

You must run with endurance the course God has set for us.

First, realize that God sets the course. Not us. The runners in a marathon follow a preset course, they do not make it up as they go. If they would stray from the course, they become disqualified. We must run the course that God puts before us. When we stray from God’s course, we are setting our own path and disqualify us from the full measure of blessings that God has planned for us.

We may not always like that course and we may wonder “why did God plan it this way?” The answer is simply, “Because God planned it that way.” We must run by faith and submit to the path that He has laid before us.

Secondly, we run with endurance. To run with endurance, we need a special mindset. If we start a marathon, thinking it’s a sprint, we are going to be vastly disappointed and dismayed when you discover it is far longer than that. You’ll be so discouraged you’ll want to quit. But you need to keep running. And how best to keep running the race to the finish?

Motivation

What do you see at any sporting event? Fans. The streets are lined with family and fans during just about any race. The stands are filled in any stadium that a sporting event that is played. What are those fans doing there? They are cheering on their favorite players, runners or team. They are encouraging them to do their best, play their hardest and run their fastest..they are encouraging them to endure to the finish line or the final whistle.

Hebrews 12:1 talks about a great crowd of witnesses:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sins that so easily hinders or progress. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. — Hebrews 12:1

Who is this crowd? They are those that have gone on before us. Those who have ran the race and finished well. They are there to encourage us to run the race and run it well. I did a quick word study on the word for witnesses used (you can really learn a lot by studying what the original language that is used means). The word used is marturon, from which we get the word martyr.

So who really is this crowd? They are those Christian martyrs who have gone on before us. Think of that, these are the apostles in this crowd encouraging us on. The Christians killed for their faith in the middle east are in that crowd. Think of those that are there cheering you on personally during your race. Think of how a high school football player would feel if the looked into the crowd on Friday night and saw Peyton Manning cheering them on personally.

Why should the motivate us? Well they completed their portion of the race already. We can learn much from them and how they ran. Also, since they are done with their race, they’ve since passed the baton on to us, and now it is our job to run our portion of the race.

How to finish

But ultimately, regardless of those cheering you on, it is you who must run the race. No one else can. You are the only person who can run the race that God has set for you. So how do we endure, how do we finish? Well jump back to the very first verse I shared.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. — Hebrews 12:2

So no one else can run it and you have a path set before you. Christ is the one who will empower you to complete the race. So keep your eyes on him, get in the race and give it everything you’ve got!

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