Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Happy National Running Day!

Running day, that’s news to me. I had to call my son, an avid runner, to let him know and it was a surprise to him too. Here’s what I found on Google about running day: “The day was designated as a way for runners to reaffirm their passion for running and for beginners to make a life-changing commitment to running.”

Since we can’t meet at church, we’ve been doing a bible study using Facebook to “discuss” it. We’ll meet one more time on Google Duo for a closing face-to-screen discussion, and that will be it. Or will it?

I feel encouraged that it feels more like crouching in the starting blocks instead of crossing a finish line. Bible study should ignite us to run, like a starting pistol does, giving us hope for victory not wearing us out.

A Runner’s Strategy

James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Runners wear clothes made for running, so the air travels over them without creating any sort of drag or, in other words, slow them down.  Some runners fall in behind others before them, who seem to split the wind currents, allowing them to finish mere millisecond faster. It’s called drafting. I don’t know the math behind drag or drafting, but I did have kids on the cross-country team.

The runner strains forward, every muscle rippling in turn through each stride, pulling and pushing through the wind toward a finish line. Distance runners must develop a strategy. Learning to conserve strength, energy, breath, and running at the highest level for as long as possible. It is all critical to winning their race.

I’m sure a sprinter has a strategy too. Run as fast as you can and don’t look back. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, and I don’t mean to slight sprinters. I’m was a cross-country mom, so I tend to enjoy watching distance more than speed events.

Both runners require training, training, and more training to build muscles, increase speed, and develop endurance. One won’t reach the desired times and distances without perseverance and working to a strategy that maximizes potential and uncovers unknown capabilities.

Guess what, studying God’s word does the same thing for your spiritual growth.

Bible study should fuel your energy, build your endurance, and ignite perseverance. Not like a drudge, but more like an adventure. You’ll want to experience what comes next. What comes next could be hard, but it will be harder without Jesus.

When Life Intervenes

1 John 3:1 Behold what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God–and we are! Because of this, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.

Some runners make it to the Olympics but getting there requires determination and wholehearted commitment. We’re talking years of your life devoted to perhaps only one shot at running in an Olympic event. One must have a passion for the sport, or it just doesn’t work.

Derek Anthony Redmond (born 3 September 1965) is a retired British athlete. During his career, he held the British record for the 400 metres sprint, and won gold medals in the 4×400 metres relay at the World Championships and European Championships.

Even then, spectators may still witness a disaster. The runner falls, and momentum scrapes them over the rough surface of the track, bloodying their knees and elbows until they come to a stop. Or worse yet, they suffer injury and painfully come to a limping, tear-filled stop.

Almost immediately, while still recovering, the runner and coach begin searching their stagey to identify the weakness. Then, as they recover, find ways to prevent it from happening again.

But commitment, passion, training, and strategy, they don’t guarantee victory. Derek Redmond found that out in the 1992 Olympics. He “qualified for the semifinal of the 400m with the fastest time in his heat.” He was on his way!

The British runner was favoured to medal in the 400m race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but a hamstring injury forced him to pull up during the semi-final. Redmond decided to limp on before his father Jim made his way onto the track to help him continue. Just before the finish, Jim let go of his son and Derek completed the course on his own, prompting the crowd of 65,000 to give him a standing ovation. “Someone once asked me, ‘how do you become successful?,” he tells us. “And the easiest, and most relevant answer, is to get up just one more time than you’ve been knocked down.”

Derek Redmond with his father, Jim, as they walked together toward the finish line, in a heartwarming display of a father’s love for his son.

His training kept him moving forward, despite the pain and knowledge that his dream would not be. As he continued to limp toward the finish line, his father, who was in the stands, rushed toward him, and together they moved toward the finish line. The love of a father for his son was the prize for all who watched.

Life Strategy

Psalm 119:32 I run in the path of Your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.

One could compare living life to running a race. It, too, requires endurance, perseverance, training, and strategy. In life, it seems, these qualities evolve or don’t over time and life paths. Athletes develop strategies to perform the highest level during a relatively short-lived career. I guess I don’t understand why we don’t learn from our running friends and apply the same idea to living life and living it to the full.

Just like the runner, we could and should develop life strategies to identify weaknesses and prevent injury. The trouble is, we usually back into this scenario, getting injured first, only then creating a plan for living. Oh, Lord, help us!

But God

Hebrews 12:1-3 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,

God sees us limping and knows when we fall. When this happens, we have only to cry out to Him, and He is there to pick us up. Just like our Olympian’s father, our Father in heaven will rush to our side and walk with us across His finish line.

But let’s not rush to get there, pace yourself to see what God has planned.

Yes, run with endurance making the most of your life. That means doing as much as you can for as long as you can. Pray for grit and determination. Hebrews 12:1 says let go of everything that hinders you. Remove what causes drag. Don’t be defeated by the sin that so easily entangles us. Instead, my friend, run your race with endurance.

The Best Strategy

Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope.

Life is hard, and there will be trials, but you can find your hope in Jesus. If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior yet, I pray you will make a life-changing decision today. Let Him direct steps, and you will experience victory. God’s grace, through Christ, is our prize.

The result of one victory after the next feeds perseverance. And Romans 5:4 tells us perseverance develops character and character, hope. So, put your hope in Jesus, and soon you’ll want to run with Him, wherever He takes you.

Photo Credit: Unsplash.com; https://www.google.com/
Quotes: https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-running-day-first-wednesday-in-june/;
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/olympics-moment-derek-redmond-finishes-400m-dad-barcelona/
https://www.olympic.org/news/derek-redmond-on-the-power-of-perseverance-what-defines-you-in-life
Picture caption: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Redmond

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