(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT).

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize

The Race of your life

As Christians, we believe we have been born to fulfil a divine purpose and that there are consequences, both here and in eternity, when our purpose isn’t fulfilled.  In God’s eyes our failures are when we do not use the talents, treasures and time he has given us; or if we choose to waste them.  In the ‘parable of the talents’ (Matt 25:14-30 KJV),we get an idea of what God expects from us here on earth. We’re all given talents, some great and some small, but whether your talent is epic or miniscule, we glorify God when we use it to further his kingdom. God does not value His followers based on the number of converts they win, or the number of church pews they fill; His interest is in the passion with which we use the gift He has given us.

On the day of judgement, we are all called to give an account of our lives. (1 Corin 3:13 NLT),tells us that our work will be put through the fire, to see if it keeps its value.  If it does you will be rewarded, but if not, you will suffer the consequence

Photo courtesy askscooby.com

(Hebrews 12:1 NIV)Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Hebrews 12:1 talks about the race that we are all in.  This is a race of life, it’s not a sprint but a marathon, it’s a race of purpose.  You may not have started the race well, but it’s how you finish the race that counts and what we did in between.

At church we were shown a clip of John Stephen Akhwari who represented Tanzania in the marathon at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. During the race, Akhwari fell, badly cutting his knee and dislocating the joint. He continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 10,000 miles just to start the race; they sent me to finish the race.”  Obviously Akhwari didn’t walk away with the gold medal, but he was a winner because he did His best.

Life can be full of setbacks, but with God’s grace, we get back up and continue the race.  While we’re in the race for life, we are often tested to see how strong our faith is.  You may find  that just after you have gone through one testing time that another situation comes up to throw you off the path.    During your race of life you are sure to encounter many temptations.  The devil tempted Jesus for forty days (Luke 4:2 AMP),every step whispering in His ear; every turn of the path, sowing seeds of doubt. When faced with temptation we are advised to go to the “Word,” to memorise the scriptures to fight off the doubts.  The first line should always start with “It is written….”

Rejection is often another difficult challenge we face, especially from family and friends, which can leave us feeling very alone.  But, remember Jesus was rejected by his own people (Luke 4:29-30 MSG), yet He carried on walking.  This is what we also need to do – continue running our race, because God is always with us.

Running the race of life, means stepping out in faith.God may have called you to do something, perhaps to start a new business or to move to another location that you’ve never been to before, however, we should remember that when Jesus called his disciples they were also doing other things with their lives; one was a tax collector, another a fisherman, yet they stepped out in faith, leaving the familiarity of their jobs, to follow the call.  When God called Noah to build the Ark, Noah didn’t question why, because he was in constant communication with God and had a solid relationship with Him.  Noah’s trust was so strong that when he was told to gather the animals in the ark because rain was coming, he didn’t hesitate.  When you have a strong relationship with God, you can begin to know His voice, and when He asks you to do something you too will not hesitate.

Someone once said “Following God is like stepping out on tissue paper and discovering solid rock underneath, but you’ll never discover the rock unless you’re willing to step onto the tissue paper.”

1 Corin 9:26-27  ‘So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others, I myself might be disqualified’.