I just finished a run and feel amazing right now! You know, the feeling you have after a hard work out or you’ve accomplished something great physically. For me, who’s not the biggest athlete on the planet, I work out enough to stay healthy and in shape. Yes, call me a wimp if you like, but after I finished running I felt a sense of pride. Two verses came to mind as I was doing my cool down.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” –Hebrews 12:1
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Those verses really got me thinking. Number one, I am surrounded by people who are constantly watching me. I am not saying this to sound prideful at all, but it is the truth. We as humans are always watching others, we’ve even come up with a name for it, “people watching.” And as Christians, we are automatically “watched” more than the rest of the world. So our lives should match up with what our lips are proclaiming. We must realize this fact and actually follow through with the process of sanctification. Or, the process of becoming set apart or holy. In other words, the process of becoming more like Christ, growing and changing into a person that reflects Christ and His character instead of our own self.
It’s so incredibly easy to call ourselves Christians and go to church once a week and throw a few waded up dollar bills in the offering plate, and go through the motions of being a Christian. But are we really, really, seeking after God with our whole heart? Are we really giving Him our life? He deserves it, but so often, we don’t give God a second thought unless it’s convent for us, or we want something from Him. That saddens me so much! And I can’t even begin to imagine how it makes God feel.
When I was running earlier today, I had a goal in mind, I wanted to run 3 miles, and burn 500 calories. I accomplished both of those goals.But that was my “perishable wreath.” That does not really have much eternal significance. Sure, I am taking good care of this body that God entrusted me with, but beyond that, I didn’t do too much. When athletes train, they always have a goal and a purpose. People like Lebron James, Michael Phelps, and other superstar athletes were not the best at their sport all at once. They may have had dreams at becoming the best, but it didn’t happen all in one day, one month or even in one year. It took hours upon hours of practice, sacrifice in their time, in what they ate, in what time they got up in the morning, etc. They changed their entire life in order to obtain that goal that they had set for themselves.
I was thinking about all of these things and even though the beginning of the new year has passed, the time when people typically make “resolutions”, I sat down and have been thinking about the things I want to change in my own life in order that I might obtain the imperishable. In order that I might obtain Jesus. How do I need to be beating my body and disciplining myself and exercising self control? What areas do I need to change so that I can be living most effectively to God? How can I better show the world the glory of Christ displayed in my life? These are questions that I am still pondering and I think that every Christian should ask themselves daily. I know that I do need to reorganize and re surrender my life. Surrender should be daily, and I need to understand this so that I can better serve Christ.
So, as I’ve been doing some major thinking and I’ve come to two conclusions. First, I need to be willing to actually change things in my life. I can say those words about how I want to and need to change, but until I’m willing to hand over the reigns I’m griping on to so tightly to Christ, nothing will be different. Oh, I can try to change things myself. But that change will only be momentary and will not last. Real, authentic change comes when I surrender to Christ every area and give Him complete control and freedom over everything in my life. I will change when I understand that I can’t do this alone, nor do I want to. Christ penetrates into me, and I desire to be more like Him; I desire to change in order that my life will display His character, not mine.
That leads me to my second conclusion. I must have an end in sight, and I must know how to get there. As I mentioned earlier, while I was running, I had my goal set in stone. I wanted to run 3 miles and burn a certain amount of calories. I ran and ran until my goal was accomplished. I wasn’t willing to quit or give up just because I got tired, I kept pressing on. I knew what I wanted, and I knew how to get there. My relationship with Christ is no different. I must know what I want to become, I must know who I want to become like. And in order for me to know those things, I must know Christ. I must know His character and who He is and what He desires so that I might strive to obtain those things. My life verse is Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I will discuss this passage in much greater detail sometime, but for now, please just read the words and see the grand picture. Notice that Paul says our prize is “Heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Isn’t that such a beautiful thing? Our goal and our purpose is God. I could search the globe and not find anything that even begins to come close to this glorious prize.
Beloved, please join me on this journey towards heaven, and ultimately being just like my Lord, Jesus Christ. I can think of nothing I would rather spend my life doing. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be running this race. I want as many runners beside me as we run and strive together for this common goal. I love you dearly, and I hope you will know that I am constantly pursuing Christ with my all. Let this thought encourage and spur you on.