What is that you admire most about people who want to run a marathon and then actually put forth the effort and have the focus to accomplish their goals? Is it their dedication and stamina? Is it their focus and willingness to sacrifice other things in order to train well and to be ready to go the whole distance? If you have ever stood at the finish line to welcome the runners as they cross over that line, it is an exhilarating moment for them and for you, too. For most of the runners, it is not about being #1 or even in the top 10%, it is about finishing whatever their personal goals were with success.
As Paul wrote to the new believers, instructing and encouraging them to stay true to the things that he had taught them and to continue to live out their faith through the strength of the Holy Spirit, he often likened their lives to running a race. He knew that they would need this kind of real life metaphor if they were going to be able to grasp what he was telling them. The problem of distraction, of discouragement, of becoming weary would be similar. The possibility of other opportunities or easier challenges would sometimes call out to them. Losing sight of the end result, the prize, or even the goal might be a tendency for some. Becoming complacent or satisfied with past accomplishments rather than the present could certainly become a real hazard. He passionately wanted them to follow his example and be able to say at the end of their lives that they had “finished the race and kept the faith”. (II Timothy 4: 7)
By the way, do you have on your running shoes these days? Are you in the race that God has prepared for you? You’ll be amazed at the stamina and strength God will give you as you cooperate willingly with His “training program” and keep your eyes on His goals and His purposes!