This morning I had a great run along the banks of the Roanoke River. It was perfect weather for running and I had lots of company along the way. I love seeing people outdoors enjoying God’s creation.
Hebrews 12.1 says, “let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” In this verse running is a metaphor for following God. Even if you are not a runner, it is a simple metaphor to understand.
We are called to run the race set before us. When you compete in a race, race organizers have already determined the boundaries of the race and the starting and finishing points. Runners simply line up and run the race. In this sense, following God is simpler than we sometimes think. God hasn’t called us to solve all of the problems of the world. He has called us to trust Him and follow the path that He has set for us.
I have a tendency to attempt races (or at least paces) that God has not set before me. I am competitive by nature. I try to deny that I am competitive, but the drive is deep within me. Last week, I was enjoying a short run in a neighborhood park before heading to the office for the day. About three laps into my run I noticed a guy getting closer to me on the track. At his pace he would soon pass me. I also noticed that he was about half my age. At first, I shrugged it off as just being part of life. We all get older and a little slower with time. Then I decided to pick up my pace. Soon I was running at race pace and after a few laps I noticed that the young guy was no longer gaining on me. By the end of my run, the young guy was walking. I felt pretty good about myself…for about a minute. Then, I realized that the young guy probably wasn’t even aware that I was “racing” against him.
Being competitive isn’t wrong. Getting distracted from the race God has set before in life is the real danger. We can be sidetracked by goals that have little or no eternal value. We can chase the wrong goals because someone in our life makes us feel guilty or because we lack personal fulfillment. Running the wrong races can drain us unnecessarily and keep us from the running the real race set before us.
How do we keep from running races God hasn’t given us in life? Consider Jesus. He is the focal point, not other runners. Hebrews 12.2 says, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.”