Sunday, March 16, 2014

Running or Walking, finish the race

Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.
Hebrews 12:1

I have a confession: "I hate running." I run for the bus. I used to run away from the police (another long story). I ran when I played basketball. But generally speaking, "I HATE RUNNING". So it bothers me that God likens the Christian life to a foot race. I have Christian friends who when they travel overseas, they always bring their running shoes. They invite me along for a jog, but I politely decline. Runners seem so much more spiritual and self disciplined than me. I want to put sand in their shoes. (not really)

When I was 30 years old I entered a 7 mile river run in our Lewiston, ID. I ran every night after work to get ready, going up and down the hills around where we lived. I trained for weeks so that I could finish a 7 mile long race. When the race day came along, my friend who ran with me, asked "Is that how fast you're going to run this whole race? I said 'yes" and he promptly ran off and left me in the dust. By the end of the race old ladies with walkers were passing me by. Little kids who alternately ran and walked passed me. I was pathetic, but I finished the race. 

The Christian life is described as a race, but also as a walk. "Walk in the light". "Walk as children of light", "walk in the truth", "Walk in the Spirit", "walk in his ways", "walk in newness of life". Did I mention that I love to walk? Both walking and running are metaphors that describe what it means to follow Jesus. Rather than fixating on "running" OR "walking" the key is to focus and finish. "Run with endurance the race set before you". "Be determined to run the race that is ahead of us (and to finish)."  Walk in the way, the light, love, in his commandments, etc. 

The issue isn't walking or running, but rather our heart's motivation and purpose. Have I determined to follow Jesus? Are my eyes fixed on him? Do I want to please him? walk in his ways, in his light, in his love. Am I determined to finish the race? 

Every step of that 7 mile river run was painful and tortuous for me, but I finished the race. I may even have finished ahead of the old lady with her walker. The race I face today is a much longer and arduous race. I hope that "walking" is acceptable. I think it is, as long as I walk in love, in the light, in the Spirit. 

Lord help me to run or walk with my eyes and my heart fixed on you.  Amen