Running the Spiritual Race of Life

Have you ever received any trophies or ribbons for a sports competition and/or extracurricular activity? If so, which one was the most impactful for you? I received my most meaningful reward when I was a sophomore in High School. Our swim team participated in a weekend meet called The House of Champions. It took place at the Indianapolis Natatorium, home to the former Olympic trials. At one time, it was the fastest pool in the world. Our relay team was the underdog, and yet we won the 200 freestyle relay races against six good high school teams. I was proud of my team because we spent that whole winter training ourselves for this big event.

God tells us in his word that many people spend their whole lives in strict physical training to compete in the games to get a crown, a trophy, and a medal that only lasts for the moment. How much more should we go into spiritual training since our crown is imperishable and everlasting? He states here in 1 Cor. 9:24-25: “Do you 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.

Paul’s point is to encourage believers to have more single-mindedness, determination, and perseverance in our spiritual strength than in our physical condition. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” and “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).” What practical steps can you take to become stronger in your spiritual race? That’s the most important question we should be asking ourselves.

Run to Finish the Race

Finish Line

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7).”

He was born on August 21st, 1986 in Trelawny, Jamaica. He grew up with his parents, who owned the local grocery store, and enjoyed time playing cricket and football with his brother Sadiki and sister Sherine. In high school, his coach noticed his unusual speed and encouraged him to try track and field events. Good thing he did. Currently, that man, Usain Lightning Bolt, is the fastest runner on the planet, holding the world record for the 100 (9.58 sec) and 200 meters (19.10 sec) dash.

Usain Bolt didn’t become the fastest runner without setbacks. During the 2005 World Championships in Helinski, he suffered an injury in the final, finishing last place in the 200 meters with a time of 26.27. That same year, Bolt was involved in a car accident. Although he suffered minor injuries, his training schedule was further delayed. Nevertheless, Bolt continued to improve his performances in 2005 and 2006, becoming the top 5 fastest runner in the world. Once again, he suffered a hamstring injury in March of 2006, forcing him to be disqualified from the championship in Melbourne, Australia.

Despite these setbacks, Bolt never gave up. In 2008, at the Beijing olympics, Bolt won the first gold medal for Jamaica that year. Then, in 2012, at the London games, he was a triple gold medalist, winning the 100m, 200m, and the 4×100 meters relay for Jamaica. Most recently, in August 2013, Bolt beat Justin Gatlin in Moscow to keep his title as the fastest man in the world.

We may not be able to run as fast as Usain Lightning Bolt, but all of us can run to finish the race of life. We have a spiritual race that is infinitely more valuable than winning the olympics. As the apostle Paul states, “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 (1 Cor. 9:24-25).

In the Christian life, you are going to have spiritual injuries and setbacks. Trials, sufferings, and temptations will come. Despite these setbacks, keep focused on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of your faith. He will never give up on you so keep training and focusing on the race!

In the end, it doesn’t matter how fast we run the race. What does matter is that we finish it well. Don’t you hope that someday you will have the confidence to say, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith?” My prayer is that you do! May God bless you.