It was my senior year, county championships, mile run. My coach had entered me because he said I might break the county record. My personal best was 15 seconds faster than any other runner in the field. On the starting line I leered at my competition, literally growled at them, saliva running onto my beard. Later I would learn that other runners called me the mountain man, because of my long hair, and crazy antics. I remember at the start of the race my heart was pounding in my chest, and so when the gun went off, I sprinted for the lead. But I didn’t get to the front before the first curve, and was boxed in. I panicked, and as I jostled to create space, I took both hands and shoved the runner in front of me off the track and on to the infield. Just as my coach predicted, I won the race going away, and broke the county record. But… I was disqualified. What I didn’t realize about myself at the time was that instead of running to win, I was feverishly running not to lose.
There is a correlation between the way I approached my races back then, and the way we can approach our relationship with God. We can find ourselves running on the fuel of fear, rather than resting in the love God has given through our inheritance.
We are hard-wired for eternity. We have been radically changed, ‘all things have become new,’ so that we don’t have to wait for our life here to end to enjoy all the benefits of our birthright. Scripture doesn’t teach that we are suddenly fit for heaven after we die. We are living right now part of our eternal life with Him. Just because on occasion, and some days more than others, I act like a selfish earthbound hoodlum, doesn’t change the fact that in Christ I have everything I will ever need to enjoy his promises now, and forever. It’s what Jesus forecast when he said we will ‘have life and have it more abundantly.’ When I became a child of God, the package that fit me for heaven arrived pre-assembled.
The people watching that mile race must have scratched their heads in bewilderment. I was the hand’s down favorite, only I acted like the only one who didn’t believe it. Likewise, we forget sometimes what is in us, and therefore live as though it’s not true. The scriptures tell us that God has equipped us for everything leading to godliness. We never do this Christian life perfectly, but we can trust Him for the power to tell sin, ‘I will not believe the lie.’
On that fateful day, in a panic attack of identity, I chose to take matters in hand, and it cost me a championship. Likewise, we do what we know is questionable because we’re afraid of not getting what we already have. We make poor choices because we don’t believe the race we are running has already been won. We run in fear instead of racing with with a knowledge that He’s already beaten our stiffest foe, by rising from the dead.
So, each day that you edge your toe to the line, and lean in waiting for the gun, despite your feeling threatened, and despite voices that tell you you’re not good enough, tell yourself you are fit, and fitted for the garland at race’s end, a crown given to all runners who love racing for the sheer joy of keeping in step with the Spirit, who is Jesus.
3 Comments Add yours
So good, Kevin! I’m in the middle of Jamie Winship’s book “Living Fearlessly, Exchanging the lies of the world for the liberating truth of God” and he writes of the perspective you have so eloquently communicated. Thanks for living the truth, my friend!
Such a wonderful picture of the Christian life–a race we’ve already won, but I know how often I doubt my ability to stay the course when life gets tough. Thanks for your vulnerability here–a challenging memory even though it’s a terrific picture.
Thank you, Kevin. As usual you have touched a nerve.