Just imagine for a moment that you’re watching your favorite football team on TV, whether college or professional. The team you happen to be rooting for has possession of the ball. The quarterback gets the snap, backs up, and tosses the ball to a man who is wide open. That player receives the ball and starts running. He runs harder and faster than any football player you’ve ever seen! Like a lightning bolt, he sails down the field and across the goal line like it’s nothing. There’s only one problem: He ran the wrong way.
How many comments do you think would be made about his speed, or how well he held onto the ball? My guess is that a fair 99% of the commentary would be about his direction. That’s probably the most important element of the idea of running—direction. You can be a skilled, quick, agile, and enduring runner, yet if you’re going the wrong way, none of it matters.
Paul told us in some of his New Testament writings that running matters. Especially the direction. He said, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1b-2).
Notice a few things in that verse that have to do with direction:
1) Keep moving forward
He said to “run with endurance the race set BEFORE you . . .” Notice we aren’t told to re-run the race BEHIND us, but simply the one left to be run. That tells me we can’t run effectively if we’re facing backwards. We all have truckloads of failure in our past that we could dwell on and camp out in. That’s not the correct direction to run, though.
Paul shows us by his example that we are to quit fixating on our past and focus every ounce of our effort on where we’re headed. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14).
2) Keep your eyes on Christ
But how do we keep our gaze looking forward? Having a focal point—like a goal post or finish line—can keep you moving in the right direction. The Christian’s focal point is Christ. We can either keep gazing at our past sins and failures, or we can look to the One who took away our sin and guilt and shame.
Christ promises that our sins will be forgiven if we bring them to Him, so let’s take Him at His word! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Take your past to Him, confess it, and leave it there. Then get up and begin to run forward!
Keep your eyes on the prize—Jesus! There’s a finish line to this race, and Jesus is sitting there waiting on us to finish! Can you imagine what it will feel like to see Him after all the struggling and battling on this earth is done? It tends to help us push through the pain and cramping of a long distance race if we focus on how sweet the finish line will be.
3) Run with endurance
So don’t give up, and don’t even consider the option of quitting! The race won’t last forever—and when it ends we’ve got a celebration waiting for us that’s second to none (Revelation 19:7-8)!
Sometimes what hinders us the most about running is the fear of falling. I’ve had my fair share of good spills, and I’ll be honest with you, I really don’t care to do that again. But if we allow fear to prevent us from running toward our future, we’ll never experience the thrill of victory because the agony of past defeat will beat us before the starting gun fires. Drop your fear, and give it all you’ve got for the future.
Today is another leg of the race called life. The cheering section is going wild in heaven (Hebrews 12:1)! The past is history, so leave it be. Now tighten up your laces, do a little stretching, and prepare for the marathon of a lifetime! On your mark, get set . . .
That’s just a thought, and I welcome yours.
Until next time,
Copyright © 2021 by Blake Martin @https://pastorblakeman.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/run-2/ No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.