I hope all the moms had a great day yesterday being celebrated and loved on. I had a great time with my mom, and if you missed my special conversation with her, you can check it out here.
Today, we begin a brand new series titled Run the Race. As we have heard before, life is a journey. Some say it’s a sprint, and others a marathon. I think we all get it wrong – it’s more like an ultra-marathon.
An ultra-marathon is any distance greater than the marathon distance. If you run 26.3 miles, you can technically call yourself an ultra-marathoner since the marathon is 26.2 miles.
I have fond memories of running as a middle and high schooler. While training for the upcoming middle school cross country year, I posted 400 miles that summer.
Somewhere along the way, I lost my focus and had a lackluster high school career, but I found my groove as a cross country and track coach after high school.
During our 1997 cross country season, we had the goal of winning the league championship. The year before had been rough; we got destroyed and didn’t even make the post-season.
I went back to the drawing board and re-tooled my whole approach to coaching. We began the year in a classroom developing our team and personal goals.
Just like in life, our season was not a sprint; it was more like a marathon. Every practice had a focus, purpose, and goal that would get us one step closer to our season goal of winning the league championship, which had not been done since 1989.
Doesn’t life feel that way? We take a few steps forward, and then we encounter a hill that slows our pace, and the rest of the pack passes us?
When we became believers, we might have thought or heard that it would be smooth or smoother sailing. The hills would seem small and conquerable, but then life hits back, and the hill becomes Mount Everest.
We lose our focus. We lose our stamina. We get discouraged.
You are not alone – we have all been there. Some of you might be there right now. Lord knows I have been there more times than I can count.
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Paul is a great example of running life’s race to completion. He hated believers in the 1st Century Church until he encountered God on the Damascus road that led to one of the greatest conversions in all of history.
Over his lifetime, he was shipwrecked multiple times, beaten and thrown in prison in various places, and had a thorn in his side that never went away.
The Lord’s reply to his thorn was…”my grace is sufficient for you.” Sometimes those words are comforting, and sometimes you struggle not to yell back at God because of your circumstance.
In the end, Paul fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished life’s race leading many to Christ and building the Church.
When you think about your life and the race you want to run, what comes to mind?
In his book Win The Day, Mark Batterson talks about his Life List of the 100 things he wants to accomplish before his life is called heavenward. Here’s a sampling of his list:
- Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary
- Write an autobiography
- Help 1,000,000 dads disciple their sons
- Get a doctoral degree
- Hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain
- Straddle the Equator
Running the race of life does not have to be boring, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. Heading into my fortieth birthday, I gathered the most important memories up to that time and wrote them all down.
Forty days out from my birthday, I launched the stories. I sent them to friends and family as a way of re-living the moments and symbols that have made me who I am today.
Each of our races is unique, just like we are. There is not exact duplicate in the world, and there won’t be.
There are 6 billion people in our world today, and there is no carbon copy. Billions, if not trillions, of people, have walked the earthy from the creation of the Earth, and there has never been a carbon copy.
Isn’t that amazing?
Our life journey is woven together like a tapestry. If you have seen some of the art done in real-time, an artist starts with a blank canvas and draws what appears to be random brushstrokes in odd places. You stare at it, and then and only at the end, the artist flips the canvas to reveal their masterpiece.
What do you want your masterpiece to be? Your life is your canvas.
God is the artist, but and He never makes a mistake or puts a brushstroke where it shouldn’t go. The problem is…we have free will, and we take the brush out of His hand and go crazy putting brush strokes in random places.
In the end, our masterpiece is completed; it just might have a few random brush strokes in odd places. Life is not easy, and it’s not perfect, but when we let God guide and direct our life, our journey is purposeful, impactful, and a work of art.
Remember that cross country team I was coaching? Well…we had a few hurdles along the way. One week before the league championship, we lost to our rival. The team was devastated. They thought it was over.
I told them that winning the dual meet was not the goal. Our goal was the league championship. Yes, it would have been nice to be our rival, but that wasn’t the goal.
The following week, we were locked in a battle with our rival once again at the league championship. They thought they had it all sewn up since they defeated us the week before, but we had them marked.
Stride for stride, we matched them. And then it was time, and the rest they say is history. We won the league championship that year and a few others after that before I hung up my whistle.
I have been blessed to run an amazing life journey so far, but there is still more work to be done.
Mark Batterson says, “if you are still breathing, God’s not done with you yet.” Your masterpiece isn’t done yet. Keep running the race of life.
When you get to the hills, drive your arms and push up those hills so you can recover on the downhills.
God is at work in you so that He can do great work through you – your journey is still being written. Run your race to completion.
Lord, thank you for the example of the apostle Paul to run the race set before us to completion. Please use our triumphs and mistakes to do great things. Please go before us and light our paths, and lift us when we need it. Thank you for creating us as Your masterpieces. Amen!
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