It was the first race of the year, a 5K. I had never run more than absolutely necessary for most of my life and now that I was in college, I decided to take up the cross country team. The only reason they even accepted me is because they were desperate for people to join. In my mind, it was the key to helping me get in shape, but it felt more like a death sentence. Half way through that first race, my shorts too tight, the uncomfortable sensation of my paper number safety-pinned to my chest, and the knowledge that people were looking at me in pity, I wondered why I had ever thought this was a good idea. And when I finally crossed the finish line, I was the very last person. Not from my team. From the entire race. After that day, I made a vow. I would never, ever, ever come in last again and I would better my time with each event. In both, I actually succeeded, and it was an utter miracle.

Eventually, I would learn to love running, but those miserable days of absolute exhaustion and weariness, butterflies in my stomach at the sound of the starting gun, and total soul-deep digging to put one foot down in front of the other gave me some deeply significant and permanent insight into the Christian walk. It’s hard, requires a tenacious spirit, and the determination to run as if to win, but the exhilaration of finishing well is worth every sacrifice. In my cross-country days, I ran just to finish, the thought of winning was never a consideration. My walk with the Lord, however, has much at stake and this race is one that I need to win. My strategy is similar to my cross-country days:

1.) Wake up early to practice. Hello, devotions!

2.) Feed on good food. Memorize the Word!

3.) Enjoy and learn from my teammates. Fellowship with those who are likeminded is essential! Go to church and be involved in Bible studies!

4.) Show up for the races and give it all you’ve got. When life gets tough, don’t give up on the faith. Carry on and trust God to help you run well!

5.) Post race relaxation in a crumpled heap of gratitude that I survived. Take time to enjoy the goodness of God by being thankful for the opportunity to run for Him!

If you feel like you are in a marathon, and getting a bit weary, be encouraged today.  Put your every effort into setting your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Remember Who you are running for and ask Him to energize you in your walk with Him. When He turns to you and says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” it will all be worth it and then some! Keep running the race, dear one!

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