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Run the (Endurance) Race

A few Saturdays ago I completed a triathlon. The race consisted of swimming just short of one mile, biking twenty-five miles, and running six miles. This was my third triathlon at this distance and the best experience I have had to date. Learning from seasoned racers and past painful experiences helped me have a better race. Endurance racing is difficult. To succeed takes wisdom. Wise racers create a good race strategy and stick to it. It may be a flexible strategy, but a strategy nonetheless.

Establishing a plan encompasses training smart, having adequate gear, and self-management during the race. Training smart means not over or under doing exercise. We need to train and rest with reasonable intensity and consistency. As for equipment, we don’t need the best gear, but we need it to be functional and dependable. Self-management during the race means maintaining a healthy pace and staying hydrated.

In our faith-life, like an endurance race, establishing and staying with a ‘race strategy’ takes grace, courage, and focus. New Testament writer Paul encourages us to run in such a way as to get the prize. We grace-race with a purpose rather than aimlessly. In a word, our faith strategy is trust. We race along wholly trusting God for guidance and strength…and everything else. We betray trust when we self-sufficiently push too hard or irresponsibly lay back. This leads us to burn out or drop out. Either way, we’re out.

So, what’s the prize? The prize is eternal life. Eternal life is not simply pie in the sky, flying high, be with God someday when we die. The Bible tells us that God has given us eternal life in his Son. He gave us the life, Jesus. Eternal also means now, here. The race is not merely to get somewhere, but to know and experience God now, during the race.

God desires to guide our race and empower us. He is our endurance for whatever we face. A triathlon reflects life in that it entails activity in various contexts or events. In every circumstance we have an opportunity to keep moving or quit, to experience God or withdraw. We’re meant to keep on keeping on at a divinely inspired pace.

In order to be a successful endurance racer we need to closely monitor our heart rate and continually hydrate. We don’t want to blow our cardiac engine or dry out. Either can slow us to a crawl and damage our health. The same is true for everyday life. The Bible repeatedly tells us to watch after our heart and guard it…from it flows the wellspring of life.

Heart health is vital for the long haul. Hydration is critical as well. Life easily dries us out. We keep our souls hydrated by trusting in our intimate connection with God, the ultimate thirst quencher.

God uses others to refresh us as well. We’re not going it alone. Community plays a significant role in endurance racing. There’s a distinct, “we’re all in this together” camaraderie among endurance racers. During races, participants often encourage each other by saying things like, “keep it up,” “great job,” “just a little farther,” “you’re going to make it,” and “hang in there.”

The faith-life is an endurance race. Are you heart healthy and hydrated? If not, slow down and drink up. Are you experiencing God along the path? Is God guiding and empowering your race plan? He delights in doing so. You can enjoy your race or despise it. Actually, endurance racing can be fun…yes, fun. You have the choice every day to flourish or flounder, thrive or just endure. God desires for you to run a hearty race and finish well.

About the Author

Artie has been communicating God's grace in various contexts over the last fifteen years. His passion is similar to Bill and Anabel's in that he desires to communicate God's grace in a way that makes it easily applicable in everyday life.