Waaay back in my 30’s, I faithfully turned on the TV each morning to do the 20 minute workout. Remember that? This soon led to my commitment to exercise even to this day. Not at all claiming to be an athlete, I do however strongly believe that daily movement, strenuous or not, can only be an advantageous and healthy thing so I prioritize it. It is a gift I give myself and those who love me. Each day on my prayer walk, I thank God that I am still able to complete my course once again.
At the conclusion of the 20 minute workout there was a cool down period. The instructor would ease up the pace encouraging participants to slow down and breathe in a more measured manner. However, this is very different for a person who is a runner. Cool down and rest does not come until the race is completed. You are taught to keep the pace, maybe even accelerate with a burst of enthusiastic energy, to the very end never letting up at all. You must cross that finish line with all the gusto you had in the first place! Give it all you’ve got and go for your biggest win!
The Bible refers to life as a race.
“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.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
Do you believe you have a God-given task, one you are assigned to complete? Your age has absolutely no bearing on this. The only thing that matters is completion of the race.
And, the older you get the more you consider the legacy you are leaving behind. Do my children and my friends, and yes, even my neighbours, really see Jesus in me? Do I show up every day loving and caring for others as Jesus wants me to? Have I taught my grandchildren that loving Jesus is the biggest thing to ever happen in life? This is your mission, your assigned task.
“…but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and STRAINING forward to what lies ahead, I PRESS on to the PRIZE of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12, 14
Then when I consider this verse, again I notice a few outstanding points. First, it reassures me that it is never too late. It instructs me to let go of what is past and reach ahead. It doesn’t matter what happened long ago. The goal is to move forward, reach forward. Plus, the word straining is so practical and relevant here, noting another word, training, within it. Straining means we exert our strength. It means pushing ourselves. There are times when this is not at all an easy thing. There are days, ask any athlete, that they don’t want to train. Yet exhausted and perhaps even frustrated, they know these are especially the days they need to show up and train anyway …and so do we. The tendency as we age may be to slow down but training is consistent and continuous. It requires self-discipline.
We push, we press on despite the way we might feel. This image always gets me. I picture a person with his or her face smushed (is that a word) up against a windowpane, as in the photo above, longing for a glimpse inside. That’s us as we yearn to see Jesus getting closer to that day every passing minute. This longing is motivating me to create that legacy for those I love. I’m pushing against that windowpane and one day will triumphantly crash through to see Jesus clearly face to face…and I want others to see and know him too.
Our goal is to run the race to completion to win the prize! In order to do this, we focus only on Jesus. Refuse to let past failures, hurts or rejections distract you off course. Here Paul tells us that things he felt were once so important he now realizes mean nothing at all. He threw them away when he realized what the true prize is.
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it as garbage so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.” Philippians 3:7-8
May we each be able to say we ran the race to completion...and ran it well.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7