As a runner, I am familiar with training my body and mind for race day. In order to prevent injuries and to build endurance, I train for approximately three months prior to a race. Running is all about developing the self-discipline to ‘lace-up’ and find a rhythm that your body recognizes. When I run a race, the route is planned, marked, there are volunteers guiding and cheering me along the way, and my focus is on finishing strong. The same should be true about our faith.
In his letter to the Church of Corinth, Paul uses running a race as an example of how we should run our race:
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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Paul specifically instructs us, as followers of Jesus, to discipline ourselves in such a way, that we keep our focus on the prize. This self-discipline Paul is talking about reminds me of when I am in a training season. I pay attention to everything, not just running. I focus on stretching, hydration, nutrition, sleep, and overall mindset. This is the same focus I give to my faith.
For me, I need to start and end my day in the Bible. I know if I don’t start my day reading and studying God’s word, I open up myself to attack from the enemy. Lately, I get up before the sun, curl up on my couch with my morning cup of coffee, and read my Bible. I also take some time to read the online Bible studies I am a part of. As I go about my day, I allow the words I read in the morning to keep me focused to accomplish any tasks/goals I have on my schedule. At night, I pray and finish my day reciting and journaling my memory scripture. It is my nourishment for my soul, similar to the routines I establish when preparing for race day.
Another thing I do to keep disciplined is to surround myself with others who walk ahead of me, walk alongside me, and walk behind me in faith. I seek out opportunities to grow in wisdom from pastors, mentors, friends, family, and other Christian creatives. I also take opportunities to serve those around me through teaching, speaking, and producing quality content grounded in Scripture. It is no different than the volunteers on race day, they are there to cheer you on, support you as you navigate the course, and be there to help you if needed.
Focus is a big part of running…you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times, keep an eye on the clock, look out for potential dangers, and pay attention to the course. The same is true for our faith. I know my days are numbered therefore, I use my time wisely and work to grow God’s kingdom. I pay attention to potential traps (either from the enemy or from false prophets) and keep my mind focused “on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
I am also reminded by Paul to keep the discipline needed to endure the race, for it is through our discipline we can cross the finish line with our head held high and receive our crown.
How are you running the race as a believer?