My son’s last high school cross-country race was going to be at the State meet.
It was his goal all season long to make it, so he was exhilarated to be going there.
He had prepared for months for this moment. Done everything he was supposed to do.
He put in the long, grueling hours of hard work and training. Got enough sleep. Drank enough water. Carb loaded the day before. Had protein the day of.
He was totally focused on giving it his all and doing his best.
He lined up at the starting line, envisioning how everything would go.
The countdown began. The starting shot rang out. He took off.
And someone behind him clipped his foot . . . so he lost a shoe.
In that moment, he had a choice.
Would he stop and look for the shoe in a sea of running bodies wasting precious time? Would he give up knowing that he wouldn’t do as well as he wanted to with only one shoe on?
Or would he plunge ahead, give it his all, and run the race of his life?
He chose to run.
Running with Endurance
My son’s choice to run that day despite losing a shoe wasn’t a decision without consequences.
The steep hills were slippery due to the lack of traction on one foot. The gravel patches were painful to run on unprotected. And the frustration over the unfortunate circumstances threatened to dim his resolve.
But he kept going.
He pushed through the difficulties, the pain, and the disappointment. And in the end, even though he didn’t get the time he wanted to . . . he ran one of the best races of his life.
Because he ran with endurance . . . even while running with only one shoe.
And isn’t that kind of what life is like?
We start out with these grand hopes, dreams, and expectations. We have this beautiful vision of what our life is going to look like.
We try to do what we can to prepare. And while we know it’s going to be hard sometimes; we feel like we can handle it.
We are bold and confident. We think we’ve got this.
But then something happens.
The doctor calls and the news isn’t good. We thought we would have children by now, but we don’t. Our spouse walks out. We lose our dream job. The business fails. The house burns down. The car won’t start . . . again.
We make mistakes. We let people down.
The everyday stresses and pressures of life leave us exhausted, burnt out, and confused.
We find ourselves looking at our life in desperation while thinking, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!”
But in those moments, we have a choice.
Will we waste precious time looking backward? Trying to find what we lost? Searching for what we think we need to succeed? Losing ourselves in daydreams and thoughts of, “If only . . ..”
Or will we trust God, push forward, and run our race of faith anyway?
What Does God Say About Endurance?
My son was able to run well that day because he chose to endure the difficult circumstances he was facing.
God talks about endurance a lot in the Bible because He knows this life will be hard. He knows we will face difficult circumstances. And He knows we will be tempted to give up.
But He also knows the glorious future awaiting us on the other side. He knows how persevering in our difficult moments can strengthen our faith.
And teach us how to lean on Him in every single moment.
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”-Hebrews 10:36 ESV
What Does Endurance Mean Spiritually?
Running the race with endurance spiritually means not giving up. It means to keep practicing our faith even when it’s hard, or we don’t feel like it.
- It means reading our Bibles even when it seems boring.
- Praying even when it feels like God isn’t answering our prayers.
- Showing up for our devotional times with God even when He feels distant.
- Continuing to go to church even when we don’t want to.
- Loving others even when it’s hard.
- Choosing to trust God even when we can’t see or understand what He’s doing.
By enduring in our faith spiritually, we are continually planting seeds. And eventually, we will reap a sweet harvest.
A harvest that makes all our efforts totally worth it.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”-Galatians 6:9 ESV
What Is the Bible Verse About Finishing the Race?
One of the most well-known scriptures about running the race with endurance is found in 1 Corinthians.
“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 9:24-27 ESV
Athletes who have a goal of winning a prize think of nothing else. Their whole life is centered on their dream. And they plan everything around it.
This is what the Bible means when it says to run the race.
Paul is encouraging us to express the same amount of effort and total dedication that an athlete shows . . . in our own pursuit of Jesus.
To make Him our sole focus.
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”-Matthew 10:22 ESV
Running the Race of Faith
Choosing to run the race of faith doesn’t mean life will be easy. In fact, it often means life will be more difficult.
The mountains in front of us are slippery. And it can be easy to lose traction.
The rough patches of gravel are painful. And they can cause us to lose heart.
We won’t be able to run our race as fast or as well as we thought we could have.
But if we keep going.
If we choose to do our best and let God handle the rest. If we choose to trust that God has a plan, even when we don’t understand. If we choose to lean on God in our pain . . . He can take it and use it for something great.
- To develop our character.
- To grow our faith.
- And to help us experience His love, comfort, and grace in new ways.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”-Hebrews 12:1 ESV
Running the Race and Finishing Well
How do we keep running the race with endurance when life doesn’t look how we thought it would? How do we hold onto faith when tears are falling down our face?
We make the choice to cling to Jesus.
Running the race with endurance and finishing well means that we choose to run every day. No matter what we are facing. No matter how hard it gets.
We do everything we can to run the race to win the prize.
The prize of Jesus Christ.
Knowing that someday when we get to the end of this life, we will be able to hold our heads high.
Because we did the best we could to run our faith race well.
While leaning on Jesus the entire time.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”-2 Timothy 4:7 ESV
You can’t choose what you get in this life. But you always have a choice on what you will do in response to what you have been given.
You can reminisce over what was lost. You can search for what you think you need. You can give in to the pain and sorrow.
Or you can choose to trust the God who already knows all your tomorrows.
Because while we can try to prepare for what the future may bring.
Life is not predictable.
And sometimes, you are going to lose a shoe.
But what matters most in that moment, is what you CHOOSE to do.
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