Reflections of a Runner

October 2nd, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 4: 25-27 (NLT)

25 Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil.

 

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Just last Saturday, I joined over two-hundred other runners and walkers for the MJ5K, a 3.1 mile race that is growing every year in its attendance and influence in the Nashville area. As the Assistant Race Coordinator, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run or not this year. But thanks to the hard work and dedication of our incredible volunteers, I had the opportunity to join the other runners on the starting line and with the bang of the starter gun, we all set out to run the race set before us.

Running in the initial crowd of a race’s beginning is quite an exhilarating experience. At the outset, we are all together. People of all ages . . . of all backgrounds . . . of all levels of health and stamina. But though we are all so different in our stages of life or running ability, we must all run the same course.

The course. In our case, the course was explained to every runner from the main stage and each had the opportunity to review a map before the race began. Furthermore, police cars and volunteers were stationed at every major intersection and turn on the course. In addition to that, the individual who certified the course had left green marks on the road or running trail indicating distances and key turns. All in all, the course was specifically marked and easy to find.

But each runner approached the course with different thoughts in their mind. For some, three miles might as well have been twenty miles. They were embarking upon this course as a seemingly insurmountable personal challenge. Others could run 5K’s in their sleep with no problems. One person even won their age division while pushing a stroller! One individual “warmed up” that morning by running the whole course before the actual race began. Still, others rode in wheelchairs and some walked with their spouses or friends just to enjoy the experience.

Many different runners. One course.

As a runner, I’ve learned that each time I run is different. Depending on my energy level for that day, the weather, the time of day, or what I’ve eaten, I have a wide range of different running experiences on the same course. One thing is for certain, though, I must keep running forward. If I stop running, starting up again will be nearly impossible.

This passage is about running the race of Godly wisdom. Like the course that we ran last weekend, we must “look straight ahead” and “fix our eyes ahead on what lies before us.” There are official guidelines to earthly races and there are also guidelines to our spiritual race. The course has been clearly marked by the One who ran ahead of us and He has posted the authorities and servants of the heavenlies all along the trail to give us guidance. His own Spirit is running beside us to give strength and wisdom. With all of these factors in mind, looking back to our old lives is no longer an option. We must look forward and keep running.

Secondly, we are called to “mark out a straight path” and to “stay on the safe path.” This entails our personal efforts to understand the course God has laid out before us. This is reviewing His map and following the helpful directions of those He has placed on the course around us. This doesn’t just mean understanding our personal careers or ministry callings; it more aptly refers to the surrender of our lives the roadmap of this race’s Creator.

At any point, I could have chosen to bypass the preapproved course and make my own way to the finish line. I probably would have even made much better time. However, I would have disqualified myself from winning the prize. Why? Because running in this race requires a submission to the Creator of the course and His design for our journey.

This is actually a great thing! We don’t have to sit around and torture ourselves to luckily discover the correct path for our lives. God has already marked the trail before us– we just have to run forward and stay on the “safe path.”

Finally, we are called to not “get sidetracked.” I’ve got to be honest, running with others caused me to run differently than when I run by myself. I adjusted my speed according to theirs and I compared my progress to theirs. In the physical race, this is fine. In the spiritual one, this can be a detrimental “sidetrack” to our progress. Remember, we each run the same race with a plethora of varied strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. We are not expected to reach the finish line at the same time and we mustn’t be discouraged by those who seem to effortlessly run ahead of us. Conversely, we must not be judgmentally overconfident when we think we are ahead of others.

Rest assured, their race has its own unique challenges. Just run yours and stay on God’s path. A life not sidetracked and dominated by the incomparable successes and failures of those around us is one that will finish the race. If you spend your time tracking others’ progress, you’ll run out of breath.

So get stretching! Learn the course and commune with its Creator. The race is on and each of us must finish it for ourselves. Unlike the MJ5K, there’s a reward waiting for every runner than finishes this race.

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~ by johndriver on October 2, 2008.

2 Responses to “Reflections of a Runner”

  1. pretty cool how God has just laid answers in front of my face. its not everyday something like this happens 🙂

  2. Where one man’s weakness is, there is another man’s strength. When we compare ourselves to others, we are forgetting that we are all running the race together! We have strengths that others lack, and the same goes for them. I need help realizing that when I do have a weakness, that I should look for others around me for help. When I see my friends struggling, I should help to lift them up!

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