by Rebecca Livermore
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight, not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should not become disqualified ( 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NJKV).
“Why oh why did I ever want to run this race?” my husband muttered at about the 10-mile mark in the Honolulu marathon. He was hot, his feet hurt, and people all around him were dropping out of the race. The thing that kept him going was the thought of the “prize” – his wife and kids waiting for him at the finish line, not to mention his life-long goal of running a marathon. Keeping his eye on the prize is what motivated him to complete the race.
The physical discipline my husband exercised in order to finish a marathon had value. His health improved because of it. But compared to the importance of running the spiritual race God has set before us, finishing a marathon is of very little value.
Both physical and spiritual exercise make you feel better. But no matter how much you enjoy the exercise, there are going to be some days you just don’t feel like doing it. What should you do when that happens? Do it anyway!
Of course, there are times when you’ll legitimately have issues that may make it difficult for you to do your normal spiritual routine. You may be sick, or may have company, or may be traveling or perhaps you overslept. One thing I’ve found helpful is to have a “minimum daily requirement” that I can do on even the hardest days. For me, that is listening to one side of a Bible tape. Even if I’m not feeling well, I can listen to the tape while in bed. If I’m running late for work, I can listen to part of the tape while I’m in the shower and finish it in the car as I drive to work. There are days when the only thing I do is put on a Bible tape as I’m drifting off to sleep. Perhaps that isn’t ideal, but it keeps me on track with spending time in God’s Word daily which is certainly preferable to skipping time in the Word altogether.
What about you? Do you have a daily routine for staying in the Word of God and prayer? If not, start one! Set a minimum goal that you know you can do no matter what. That may be listening to a Bible tape like I do, or it may be reading a devotional, or a few verses of Scripture. Pick something you enjoy, and do it daily, even when you don’t feel like it. On days when there is more time, add in additional spiritual disciplines such as Bible study and more extended time in prayer and journaling.
Nothing else we do in life matters as much as running the race the Lord has set before us because nothing else lasts for eternity.
Father, we pray that You will help us to run the race set before us with diligence. Give us the strength we need to be disciplined. We thank You that You are there to help us run the race successfully. Amen.
Thought: Use your journal to map out a plan for running the race more effectively. (Note: If you don't like to journal, spend some time in prayer on this topic.)
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