An opening line to a book I recently read was “This book is for ambitious people who want to get ahead faster.” My first thought was “What does the author mean by “get ahead faster”. What are we getting ahead of? What race is he referring to? Naturally he was referring to “The Race Of Life”
There is a belief among people that we HAVE to be ahead, we need to get to the front of the line. Unfortunately, there are over 7 billion people on earth and only one person can be in front.
My father used to run marathons, and recently I started doing the Park Run. It wasn’t until I started walking with the goal of eventually jogging and hopefully getting a time of under 35 minutes that I really understood what it means to race if you are not the best. In a marathon or any running event, the goal isn’t to win against all the people around you, it is a competition with oneself. You train to build up your own strength and endurance in order to improve your personal best.
The race of life is similar. A mistake people make is to look at all the people and compare yourself with them. A friend from school got married and divorced before she reached 22. I could look at that person and think “Wow, I’m definitely ahead of her”. But what I didn’t realize is that she learned a valuable life lesson within those 2 years that would take me another 10 years to learn.
Everyone’s race of life is different. We may all be running the race of life, but we all experience it differently. There are people who will run barefoot, others who will have Nike running shoes. Some of us may push a pram along, while others will leave the children with grandma, and still others who don’t know what it is like to have children. We cannot compare ourselves with the person next to us because we all have different backgrounds.
But then the question that comes to my mind is “Should we even bother running the race?”
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
“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.”
It is obvious that Paul tells us that we should run to win, but winning in God’s world is different from winning in Satan’s world.
In Satan’s world, we strive for comfort (nice house and car), security (good neighborhood and steady job), a pension and happiness. “Do what makes you happy” has become a popular saying.
In God’s world, we are told to “give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23), and “not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.” (Matthew 6:25). The Bible also talks about joy rather than happiness.
Joy is a feeling that builds up from the inside out. Happiness is usually caused by external stimuli and is generally short-lived, lasting only as long as the external stimuli.
So yes, run the race, but remember that the prize at the end is eternal life for those who love God and have accepted his son Jesus as Lord over their lives. God isn’t interested in what car we drive or what house we live in or if we got to the top of our career ladder. God is interested in how many people came to know Him through our actions, and also how we have developed our character to be more like Jesus Christ.
The true race isn’t about possessions, it is about winning souls for Christ and believe it or not, you are also a soul that requires winning over, day after day.
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26