What is “the race” of life?
If we were planning to run a race, one of the first things we might do is consider our entry, goals, and our training program. We would be wise to develop a detailed plan with criteria to measure our progress towards our goal, enabling us to prepare with hope for success—or “finishing well” as we could define it.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us that as Christ-followers, we are running a “race that is set before us.” This race is our lives. Though we may hope for an easy, smooth straight or an oval track, our race will likely look more like a steeplechase with hurdles to cross or a cross country track with rough terrain and sudden turns to navigate.
We don’t know how long our race of life will be, but we know that it will end at some point. Jesus will come for us one at a time or all at once, and our race will be over. There will be no “do-overs.” After our exit from the planet, we will stand with Jesus at His Bema or judgment seat, and He will assess our performance for biblical success (2 Cor. 5:10).
What does winning look like?
Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God will be judging if we walked in the works He prepared for us. Do we strive to be average Christians or to keep an average pace? Average is only the best of the worst or the worst of the best, which Jesus expressed His attitude towards in Revelations.
Our beliefs about the race and the end game are essential because they influence our choices. Our actions will reveal our priorities and will have eternal impact. With God as our judge, biblical success in the race would end with us hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).
How can we train for biblical success?
The Apostle Paul challenges us to “run in such a way that [we] may obtain [the prize].” We can’t expect to train intensively for a week and then excel in such a task as a marathon. His verse in Hebrews says we need “endurance,” which implies a long-distance race as opposed to a sprint. Endurance is built by diligently training over time.
The race of life is not a solitary race that we run alone. We can train with others and run as a part of a body. The influence of others can be a huge asset. In fact, Scripture suggests we will be wiser for it. Who we train with becomes part of who we are and who we become.
We also have a perfect model (Jesus), a powerful personal trainer (His Holy Spirit), and a book of written instructions (Scripture). These three are the constants available to us 24/7, unchanging in their commitment to truth, our well-being, and our success in the race. Intentional time “training” to be like Jesus through studying Scripture and growing in our intimacy with Christ are key elements for biblical success. No athlete has ever won an Olympic gold medal without a significant amount of time invested in training. Likewise, no Christ-follower will ever be his or her best without an intentional effort to train spiritually.
The additional practice of keeping records of our experience and performance tends to bring clarity and accountability. In our spiritual training, starting each day with God in His Word and journaling is an invaluable practice for God to equip us for our race. The enemy will use several tactics to distract us and slow us down. Recording in a journal Scripture insights, thoughts, questions, prayer requests, and His answers helps us remain focused on the goal and persevere when we grow weary.
Who do we compete with?
In Olympic races, only one runner wins the gold medal. God’s design for the race of our lives is very different. Everyone who enters His race can win the gold! God measures individual performance versus individual capacity, not versus any others. Each of us is a unique individual unlike any other, and no two individuals are identical in their ability. We run against our personal best use of our individual opportunity to extend His Kingdom. He prepared “good works” for each of us specifically as His workers in the family business—the gospel of Christ. To complete our race with biblical success, win, or accomplish our personal best will be no easy task, but the rewards we receive in eternity will be worth the effort.
What’s your next step in the race?
Have you ever tried to journal? If so, how is the discipline helpful to you? If you don’t currently practice a quiet time discipline or if you’d like yours to be more fruitful, we created this journal with an easy-to-follow structure to enhance your consistency and intimacy with the Lord.