Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Paul loved race analogies. I wonder, though, if Paul was ever actually in a race.
1 Corinthians 9:24 - "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."
and there are more.
I said I've wondered if he has actually been in a race; I think I should qualify that to say, I wonder if he has actually been in a 13.1 or 26.2 mile race.
I ran the Columbus half-marathon this past Sunday. It was 2 hours of grueling, mental anguish, as all races of that length are. Distance running is just something that is hard to put into a category because it is just a battle on so many fronts, the least of them is often the physcial one.
But run the race to win? To win? Has Paul seen these others runners? They're like gazelles skipping down the pavement while I plod along in pain. And I'm supposed to run this race, and train for it, as one running to win?
Then, Paul says this later, in 2 Timothy 4:7 - "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Distance running is all about not quitting, and continuing to push on despite any mental, emotional, or even physical desire to do so. It's just a war against yourself. Will I keep going? Do I even care? Just stop! Finish strong!
I actually think Paul got this. Run your life of faith as one running to win. Will you win? Well, that's no guarantee, and even Paul at the end doesn't make that claim. But did he leave his all out there on the course? You bet. He finished the race.
As I'm typing this I think I've changed my mind. I think maybe Paul actually was a runner and of course he has run races.
Am I the best, or even an average runner? Nope. And I'm not sure I could even say I ran that half-marathon to win. For me it was more like I just wanted to enjoy myself and my surroundings; I wanted to take it all in. In some ways, I gave in to the pain and just took it easy.
I never, ever want to say that about my faith. If running has taught me anything it's taught me what it feels like to quit or to cave in. I know that feeling of "I just can't push anymore, I just can't go on, it's time to walk." And I can see signs of it in other areas of life as well. I want to run this race of the faith to win. No way am I stopping for some "cramp" or some setback. My life is all for Jesus, bring on the hurt.