Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Can you believe we are just a few days away from the new year? It’s a time full of reflection and planning (both of which I love). It’s a time of identifying our word for the year or setting goals or intentions. And honestly, there’s a lot I enjoy about starting a new year or a new season.
So as we get ready to enter into 2022, I want to offer you some special encouragement. I know it’s so easy for me to hear what other people are doing and compare myself to them, often feeling like I don’t measure up. They’re doing this and they’re doing that, and they’re offering this, and they’re planning that. And the envy monster can wreak havoc on my heart and mind. Which is certainly not something that I want.
Then, I can get so many ideas of my own that I’m running around chasing them all and never really focus on what God has called me to do. And so being able to identify His calling for me, the mission that He has given me, has been super important so I can say “yes” to the things He desires for me and “no” to the things that are a hindrance.
That’s why today’s episode is just as much for me as it is for you. In fact, it’s something I shared with another group more than a year ago, and parts of it still speak to me so deeply that I can’t forget them.
Today, we’re going to look at a couple of Bible passages that speak to running our race well.
The first one is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT):
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 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.”
You know, as I said before, sometimes I get distracted by all these fun, new ideas, and I want to chase after them all. Sometimes I get distracted watching what everyone else is doing and thinking, “Wow, that’s cool… how could I start doing that?”
But this is what I am learning…
I know this passage speaks to only one winner in a race, and in an earthly race, that is often the case. The fastest person wins.
But in a heavenly race, it’s a little different.
We aren’t racing against each other. It’s not like there are only so many seats in heaven and we’re fighting to get one. It’s not like there are only so many rewards or crowns. No. God is infinite. He is abundant. There is plenty to go around.
No, we are racing against ourselves…
And I think about the imagery used here, of disciplining ourselves, of training ourselves. Do I do that? I really don’t feel like I stretch myself all too hard. Like, if I don’t get to reading the Bible a particular day, it’s not a big deal to me. “I’ll read it tomorrow,” I think.
I feel like I’ve grown a bit too lax in my training. Do you know what I mean? I’m not running with purpose, like Paul writes about.
And here’s the other part that has really been hitting home with me… I already said we are not racing against other people; we’re racing against ourselves. And, you know, when I get to heaven, God’s not going to ask me, “How well did you run Kristen’s race?” Or, “How well did you run Cathy’s race?” No, He’s going to ask me, “How well did you run your race?”
How faithful am I in the race that He has set before me? How faithful am I in the things He has called me to do?
If we turn to Hebrews 12, we read, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”
Let’s strip off the comparisons.
Let’s strip off the idea that we don’t have to train in godliness. (First Timothy 4:8 tells us, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”)
Let’s stop pretending that our actions—or our lack of actions—don’t have an impact on the Kingdom.
“…Let us strip off every weight that slows us down… And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Paul ran his race with one thing in mind: bringing as many people with him to heaven as he could. There were times when he didn’t have any food to eat or water to drink. There were times when he didn’t have enough clothes to keep him warm. There were times when he was beaten. There were times when he didn’t have a home to stay in. There were times when he worked himself so hard in order to provide for himself and earn a living. Yet he endured. He kept his eyes on Christ.
So today, as we get ready to enter into the new year, I want to ask you…
- What is your race? What is God asking you to do?
- Do you run every step with purpose?
- What weights are slowing you down?
- What are your eyes set on?
God, it is so easy to lose sight of the things You have called us to do. We get distracted by all the other things around us. God, some days I feel like I need blinders on, like what horses wear, to keep me focused on the path in front of me. Help us to keep our eyes on You—the author and perfector of our faith. Show us where are getting slowed down and help us to strip off those things so that we can run with purpose and endurance the race that you have set before us. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.
Guys, if you have a specific goal or calling you feel God has placed on your life, if you want to share your word of the year, if you are struggling to discover what God might have in store for you in this season of your life, if you have identified an obstacle that is getting in the way of you running your race well, would you do me a favor and email me? I’d love to hear and talk with you and see how I can support you in this new year. My email is email@example.com, and remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
Okay, that’s all for today, my friends. Until next time…
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