Finish the Race

For years various staff and friends tried to talk me into participating in the huge Orlando Corporate 5K race/walk.  When Steve and Debbie and family decided to participate last year, I ran out of excuses.   Three miles?   Yes, I could walk 3 miles.  Even pushing 1-year-old Ethan in his stroller.  No problem.It reminded me of a message I give called Run with Endurance.  In this case, Walk with Endurance.  It is based on Hebrews 12: 1-2:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, throw off everything that hinders and sin that so easily entangles.   And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him, he endured the cross….”3 points:1.    Strip. Runners in Florida don’t wear much.  Fortunately it wasn’t a hot evening, and I was comfortable in my race t-shirt and running (joke) pants.    Ethan was decked out in his rugged play clothes.  Nothing to trip us up or weigh us down.God is pretty specific in His instructions for running our race of life:  Throw off hindrances and set aside sin.  We are to throw off the things that hold us back, or interfere with our obedience to Christ or distract us from the race.   And definitely we should not get entangled in sin.2.     Run. Well, I walked.  Ethan got to ride—a cushy first race for him.  But I had to keep going, one foot after another.  There was actually a section that was uphill—I was out of breath when I got to the top of that (imperceptible to others, it seems) incline.  And I kept seeing people cut off down side streets to head back early.  So tempting.God again is definitive.  He says each of us is to run our own race—the one marked out for us.  How many times have I wanted to take a short cut, or trade races with someone, or just quit.  But then He adds,” You need to run your race ‘My way.’”  In this case, His way included pushing Ethan’s stroller—it got heavier with each mile.  In life, His way is almost always different from my way.  And no shortcuts.3.    Finish.  At about ½ mile from the finish, there was an opening in the barriers marking the course.   Many people were cutting through.  I was hot and thirsty.  Ethan was getting fussy.  Why not?  No one would even know.  Except of course I would know.  So I decided I had come too far not to finish.In life’s race, we need to remember why.  Jesus finished His race—He went to the cross.  Why?  For the “joy set before Him.”  What was that joy?  The joy of being reconciled to you and me.  And we must remember who is the one who goes with us, strengthens and encourages us, provides for every need, and never gives up on us.As Ethan and I continued, everyone passed us by.  Many asked for a ride in Ethan’s stroller, even as they smiled at his cute face.  The man with a prosthesis passed us easily.  Jogging strollers flew by.  The stragglers (who didn’t cut out early) waved as they surpassed us.But Ethan and I finished our first 5K together—weary but happy.God says the same to us.  Be prepared.  Stay on course.  Don’t quit.  There is great joy in finishing the race!c2011 Judy Douglass