Life sometimes feels like a very fast-paced race, and I am running the race. But am I running well? At the end of the day I long to say with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7, CJB)
Fighting the good fight
When life gets rough, giving up looks incredible sometimes. For a moment I’m tempted, but this passage reminded me, I can’t quit because things grow hard. Trials will come. The word used for fight in the original language indicates struggle. Every day brings struggles of one type or another. Not if struggles come, but when they come, am I running the race with the proper response to trials in my life? As a Christian, I am supposed to look like Christ. I strive to live as he did—usually failing at least ten times (in one day, sometimes in one minute.)
During a conversation with a friend this past week, the question of whether someone can legally record a conversation without the other person’s knowledge came up. Now, as a writer I conduct interviews and often record them for my own use. Out of respect, I do normally ask permission. However, in the state of Texas, only one party has to know the conversation is being recorded, and it can be the person doing the recording.
This made me stop and think. Jesus only spoke what Holy Spirit told him to speak. Oh if I could do only that a fraction as well as he did. What if someone recorded a conversation without my knowledge? Would I be embarrassed at any level when they played it back for the world to hear?
Finishing the race
Some versions of Paul’s letter to Timothy read “my race” or “my course”, personalizing the phrase. If I run a race but get off course, I may finish a race, but not the one God ordained for me. From the moment of conception, he formed a plan for my life. He mapped out the course for me to run. Am I running my race or someone else’s race? I cannot run the course set out for another person. In doing so, I steal their race and I fail in obedience of running the race for me.
Imagine a runner who thrives in a 100-meter sprint but doesn’t have good stamina. What happens if you put that athlete in a cross-country race? They fail. God gifted me to accomplish his goal for my life. To finish well, I must pursue the course he designed with me in mind.
Keeping the faith
Finally, am I keeping the faith? While running the race, am I influencing others and pointing to the Lord? Winning a race means far less than the way I run. I watched Chariots of Fire this weekend, primarily because someone mentioned it recently, but I’ve never seen the entire movie. Eric Liddell used his gift of speed to influence others in faith, even risking his position on the Olympic team by refusing to run on Sunday. Regardless of whether you agree with that decision, you have to admire his stand. When I look at my life, especially in these times, do I stand for what I believe or sit back quietly watching life happen around me.
Paul maintained his faith in spite of excruciating circumstances. Shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned—yet he called them mild afflictions. He focused on Jesus and eternity so he kept the faith.
So often, I’m not running the race very well, but I persevere. God knows my heart; he sees my desire to bring him pleasure. He honors those who honor him.
How’s your race? Do you need to adjust your course or perhaps stop and listen before speaking? Are you weary in fighting? Are you keeping the faith? How can I pray for you?