When a race begins a true racer believes he can truly win. Even though all of the evidence and statistics would say otherwise, this racer believes he has a fighting chance to be victorious. It is that same belief that drives him to train harder and harder. It is that belief that strengthens him as he steps to the starting block. The first few steps he is confident and staying with his opponents, neck and neck. But slowly he begins to fade. The harder he tries the farther back he falls in the field. He is now in last place with what seems to be no hope. At this point this racer has options: He can quit and slowly come to a stop before walking shamefully off the track; he can slow down and save his strength because he is not going to win anyways or he can keep running with the same strength and determination he had at the beginning of the race. This racer is determined to keep running. He runs harder than he has ever ran before. He passes one person, then two, then three. The crowd is on their feet. They cannot believe what they are seeing. The racers come to the final turn and everyone is anxiously watching to see what will happen. The racer gives it all he has and lunges forward while crossing the finish line. He places 4th and misses the podium completely. While some will only remember who placed in the top three, true race fans remember the way that racer finished.
Our spiritual lives are like a race. In order to run the race, we must first enter the race. When we put Christ on in baptism, as is commanded in Acts 2:38 and other verses, we are entering the race. But just because we enter the race does not mean that we will be victorious. The race will be difficult at times. If our minds and our bodies are not prepared, then we will not have the endurance to make it to the end. The preparation needed for our spiritual lives takes place before and after baptism. It is necessary to study the Word of God to not only learn the things that we should do and should not do to be pleasing to God, but to also strengthen our faith so that we will walk in His ways daily. 2 Timothy 2:15. Our race is lived out each day. Sometimes we are doing well and seem to be leading in the race. Sometimes we begin to fade and are desperately in need of strength and guidance. We must all remember as we run this race of life that we are running towards our Father in Heaven who has given us the tools to run the race until the very end. As long as we keep running the race according to His will we will be victorious.
As Paul was beginning to close out 2 Timothy he gives us hope of what will happen if we faithfully run the race of life. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. We too can be like Paul and have the faith and endurance to finish the race of life. Let us all keep our eyes on heaven and continue running faithfully until we see our God.