Guest Author: Sara Holloway I run for fun. Yeah, I said fun, as in, a hobby. (I’m surprised Michael even let me post this!) It started as a vanity thing following a doctor’s appointment and an embarrassing number on the scale. Then it turned into a way to get into shape in anticipation of trying to have a baby and wanting to have a healthy pregnancy. Then it became a way to get out the door with my son in the stroller. Since then, I’ve run several 5Ks, one 10K, and got ¾ of the way through training for a half marathon before medical complications benched me. Now, it’s become more of a sanity thing. It clears my head, makes me believe I can eat more chocolate, and gives me something to work towards (I can be a little too determined sometimes). The trick is, I have to be signed up for a race or working towards a new speed or distance goal to find the motivation to keep training.
The Bible is chock full of verses that speak to runners:
- “When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:12
- “But those who wait on the LordShall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
- “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…. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 & 26
- “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Sometimes I remember these verses when I run, but mostly, I gasp out a few phrases here and there.
Today, during Bible class, I was able to identify with one of the most well-known passages in the New Testament in a completely new way. I am always in awe of the fact that I can read familiar words and pull something new out of them each time or at a different season of my life. I think that speaks to how the words are “living and active” (Heb 4:12)
Hebrews 11. The Great Faith Chapter. It starts with the best definition of faith given in the Bible. Then reminds us that we believe by faith that the Word of God formed the worlds. Then it lists all of the major players in the OT that had amazing faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. Honorable mention is given to several others and the chapter is summed up by listing all of the methods by which the faithful were tortured and murdered and otherwise suffered for their beliefs. All of this is like a crescendo to the charge given in Hebrews 12:1. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
Yeah, I loved it already because of the mention of running, but let’s go back to Hebrews 11 verse 13 “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” and verse 39 “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.”[emphasis mine] The great faith heroes of chapter 11 never reached the finish line, but that was their motivation for continuing on, with the vast hope that they would someday, somehow get to see the promised land, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was something better yet to come! They knew they weren’t home yet. Joseph didn’t even have his bones buried and 440 some odd years later he was finally laid to rest in the land of Cannan- because he had the faith to know that just because his story ended in Egypt, God’s story was far from finished.
So, let me tie it all together. When I run, especially when I’m training for something, during the last mile of my run, I imagine that it’s the last mile in my race. I push myself, I lip sync to the fast paced music playing full blast on my headphones, I run as fast as I can that last ½ mile, I picture myself crossing the finish line. Mile 2 becomes mile 12. I can almost hear the crowds cheering, can see Scott at the finish line waiting for me, can taste the chocolate milk that will quench my thirst and speed my recovery. And I can feel the pride that my hard work and months of training has paid off big and I accomplished my goal. The energy I get from transforming my mind gets me through that last leg, even though it’s not the real deal.
And I thought, that’s how the faith heroes did it, they could see the tape stretched out at the finish line and knew that finishing was all they had to focus on. That’s the other thing that’s funny about running: I never run to win, I run to finish without stopping, I run to give my very best, regardless of what the other competitors are doing. If I can give this much dedication and determination to something so worldly, why can I not do it for my Father’s kingdom? I have all of the inspirational slogans I need spelled out for me in the Word. I have a cheering section behind me. My God is waiting for me at the finish line to give me a “Well done” and hopefully a high five. I have living water to quench my thirst. And the best part? This is a race I will win. I will receive the prize. My reward will be eternal life.
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