Running the Race in 2019

We’re off and running into a new year. How’s 2019 going so far? Are you making any changes for the better?

If you are a believer, then you, too, are running a race. The moment you received Christ as Savior, you entered the race and are running toward the goal.

Paul loved athletic imagery to describe the Christian life. He wrote in Philippians 3:14, “. . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The writer of Hebrews in 12:1 wrote, “. . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” How shall we run as we start a new year?

Run with resolve. Resolve means to make a definite, serious decision to do something. If you resolve to do something, you give it your best effort. Every year about 60% of us make new year’s resolutions, but only about 8% of us achieve them (https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html).

Whether it’s starting a diet, eating healthier, getting more exercise or saving more money, most people blow off their resolutions by January 31. The serious runner, however, will run with endurance. They don’t stroll, meander, or wander about aimlessly. They keep pressing forward.

It’s not too late to commit to make this year the best year yet in terms of spiritual growth. Donald Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asks at the beginning of a new year:

*What’s one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

*What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

*What’s the single most important thing you can do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

*In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year and what will you do about it?

*What is the single biggest time waster in your life and what will you do about it this year?

*What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

*What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Also, run with resistance. Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us. As we evaluate our relationship with God, take off anything that would hold us back or distract our focus.

Sometimes we ask, “What’s the harm in this little sin?”

Ask yourself, “Is this action or choice propelling my spiritual race or slowing down my progress? Is this a help or a hindrance?

We know our enemy doesn’t want us to make spiritual progress. He will attempt to trip us up and slow us down. Apply Psalm 37:27: “Flee from evil and do good.”

James 4:7 reads, “. . . Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” When we submit to God and resist, the devil takes off running!

In addition, run with resilience. When you fall down, get back up and keep on running. That’s what Heather Dorniden did in the 2008 Big Ten 600-meter final in Minneapolis. She was running her race but suddenly fell to the track hard as spectators gasped, but she sprang back up as if nothing happened, caught up with her competitors after several seconds and won the race in photo finish.

Dorniden, now Heather Kampf, never imagined how her recovery and effort would impact and inspire so many people. 

“This race is so easily relatable to everyone’s lives. I’ve heard from cancer survivors, people battling addiction, struggling artists, parents, athletes and coaches of every sport, runners of every age and ability. I always tell people the race is not just about not giving up, it’s about discovering what you’re capable of when you are given the opportunity to rise above adversity.

“Not every fall I’ve had has been quite so epic, but I learned that it’s worth getting up every time.” (www.godupdates.com/christian-athlete-heather-dorniden-falls-wins).

We’re going to fall, we’re going to fail, but don’t stay down. Get back up and keep running to the finish line. Press on toward the mark. Run the race with endurance. How resilient are you?

Dr. David Chancey