In the Book of Hebrews, Paul says our lives as a Christian are a journey of faith, which we can compare to a race. Our preparation to run the race is like that of an athlete. In our race there can be obstacles and there may be ups and its downs. There are moments where there are mountain tops where we can find rest and there are also valleys, hard and difficult times where our faith is tested. Our race is not a sprint, but a long marathon. God changing us to become like Jesus is a process that takes time.
Our race is not against others. Ephesians 6:12 tells us our faith race is against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Yes, our race is against the dark forces of the devil who constantly tries to foil us, and discourage us. Satan wants to slow our running pace to the point where we give up. He strives to send us to the sidelines doubled over and out of breath. In the hard times we must seek strength from the Holy Spirit and try to do our best, stand in faith, and trust in God to finish our race strong.
Back in 2015, during a 10km race in Atlanta, Ben Payne was just meters away from the finish line, but when the overconfident American started to celebrate before crossing the finish line, his first place was lost when another runner caught up with him and beat him in the last few meters, winning the title. Ben Payne later explained “I just got comfortable, and I put my guard down, I assumed that I had the race in the bag and the other runner caught me by surprise.” The winning runner was Scott Overall, and he later said, “Always run through the line.” This has tremendous wisdom for us as believers today, to persevere to the end, always aware that the devil is trying to thwart us.
It would be tragic to put in the effort, training, sacrifice and running hard only to lose. I don’t think any of us desires to fail in the race of our lives! We can learn a few valuable lessons to apply to our faith-race from Ben’s story, to not lose focus and to run with perseverance the race set out before us, not stopping until we’ve crossed that finish line. The race of faith has one goal: to be with Jesus Christ in his glory. Let us not be stopped or delayed by anything that could interfere with this race: difficulties, worries, and sin.
When we see the devil at work, let us tell him, “Get behind me!” We must remember that our God is much stronger than the devil that he created. Jesus told us in Matthew 16:18 that HE created His Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail over it!
It is good to be your pastor!
In the Lord’s service till the last fish is caught, <><