A few years ago, I began running competitively. I use the word “competitively” loosely because I really just enjoy running long distances but not necessarily to win. I’ve run a marathon and a half marathon and am preparing to run a 5K soon. As a runner, I’ve noticed there are different kinds of runners. You have the “hard core” runners who run to win first place and train nearly every day. They have the latest gear and keep up with all the trends and usually run in several races throughout the year, even traveling to remote locations. They are constantly trying to beat their latest time and advance through the ranks. They may even run two marathons in one weekend! Another category of runners are the “semi-professional” runners. They train usually with a running group and have most of the latest gear and compete in several races a year. They may even travel to a race that’s a few hours away to have a different experience. They usually set a goal for themselves to run a 12-minute mile pace or a 10-minute mile pace, but know they aren’t trying to win first place. They push themselves to do better the next time. Then you have the category of “casual/convenient” runners who are pretty much like me. We train a decent amount throughout the year, but if the weather is extremely cold or hot or it’s raining, we might not train that day. We may have a couple running gear pieces but certainly don’t keep up with all the latest trends. We usually run a couple races a year (if that) but pretty much are content to just be out there with all the other runners and finish the race.
I thought about how this relates to our Christian race. Many of us are “casual/convenient” Christians who are content to go through life knowing we are going to heaven but not really concerned about trusting God for the impossible or going deeper in Christ. We’ll do just enough to get by –read an occasional scripture, attend a Christian conference or retreat every now and then, go to church—but pretty much sit on the sidelines and accept life as it comes because it’s comfortable and convenient. We are satisfied because we know we are getting in.
Then you have the “semi-professional” Christians who study the Word and apply most of it to their lives. They may stretch their faith a little bit and get out of the boat a few times, but they prefer to stay close to the familiar. They grow little by little because they push themselves to become closer to Christ but they don’t believe they can really be one of the leaders or generals in the faith.
Finally, there are the “hard core” Christians—the ones who live every day as if it’s their last. They constantly put their faith in God to work knowing that the seemingly “impossible” is where God wants us to live. They are in the race to win first place. They refuse to be outdone or overrun. They are focused on their destiny and rarely get distracted. They know how to encourage themselves and are their own cheerleader. They don’t wait to be told what to do, because they find answers and instructions in the Word. They become the true generals and leaders in the Christian army and press towards the mark every day.
Which category of runner do you identify with? Are you even running the race or just hoping to one day be able to run? Get in the race today because your chance to run may soon come to an end. Be in it to win it and not just to make it in.
~Coletta Jones Patterson