When our minds are attuned to the things of God, we seek to see in the world of nature and the activities about us things which help to remind us of the goodness of God and exhort us in the race of life. The Lord himself did similarly and many of his observations became the basis of the parables he spoke and the words of encouragement he gave to his disciples. The following article, written in this vein, is a condensation of a paper prepared recently for the Aberfoyle Park Sister’s Class by Sister Evonne Hill.

Every day when I take the children to school, I pass two ladies “jogging” together around our neighbourhood area. The day can be hot and steamy or cold and rainy, but there they are as consistent as ever, battling the elements to fulfil their commitment. This popular “keep fit” program of walking and jogging caused me to meditate upon the race we are running every day towards God’s Kingdom and to analyse my own commitment and dedication to it.

Let Us Run With Patience

 As spiritual athletes or runners, we enter a race to the Kingdom designed and directed by our heavenly Father. He designs the course for us to follow: sometimes difficult and fraught with trial, but He too promises that He will help us lighten our burdens and will never leave us or forsake us if we put our trust in Him. How humbling it is to realise that we are God’s chosen, and He has given us this wonderful opportunity to participate in this race for such a wonderful prize! He knows that we are capable of being a successful spiritual runner. Let us obey His rules and listen daily to His advice, encouragement and if need be, admonition, by opening His Word and heeding His Voice. He is willing us on, wanting us to keep going, to gain the victory and win the prize. God won’t run the race for us, but he is very much with us in spirit along every inch of the way.

 Let Us Lay Aside Every Weight

 We all enter our race for life eternal with great enthusiasm at our baptisms, with the vision of the goal before us burning brightly in our minds. Our pathway is often strewn with temptations which cause us to slow in our running and inflict us with pain as we endeavour to “cut off” the lusts of the flesh, of the eyes and the pride of life which do “so easily beset us” and drag us down. We must allow the mind of Christ, who is our “head” (Phil 2:2, 5; Eph 4:15, 16) to be our thinking and control the running so that we can overcome and endure. Often along the way we will need to pause at the rest spots which are like little oases on our marathon race. These rest spots, of course, are our homes and ecclesial activities where we can, as weary, panting spiritual runners, drink deeply of the water of life and find “rest for our souls”. There we gain the strength necessary to help us “lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees” (Heb 12:12) and focusing our eyes on the goal before us, rise up refreshed to keep on running. Let us continually pray: “Keep in the narrow way, all who Thy Word obey, lest from Thy paths they stray and lose the race”.

Let Us Draw Near with a True Heart

 So whatever trials we may encounter and whatever form our trials may take, let us talk them over with our Heavenly Father in frequent, sincere prayer. As He gently encourages us to pick ourselves up and take up the race once again, we may notice that we have suffered injury from the trials we have encountered, but strengthened in character and in our trust and dependence on God we realise “that it is better to enter into life eternal being halt or maimed” than to lose the race (Matt 18:8). So, “faint not for thy sighs are heard before His throne. The race must come before the prize, the cross before the crown”.

As we take up our race again, determined to endure to the end, we know that all the spiritual runners who have run this race before are lining the course to cheer us on (Heb 12:1). All the running “greats” from Hebrews 11 are there as a great cloud of witnesses – they know the course, they know the trials and the pitfalls, the disappointments and the triumphs and they are urging us to have faith – that quality to be able to clothe the Kingdom and life eternal that we are striving for with substance – and to “endure and not faint or be weary in our minds” (Heb 12:1-3).

Looking Unto Jesus

 Let us be mindful that our race to God’s Kingdom is not run alone. Running together with us are our husbands, families, brethren and sisters. It is a prestigious race with a magnificent prize for all participants who endure to the end. We all know about the wonderful race that was run so perfectly by the Lord Jesus Christ. He has gone before and finished his race and encourages us to follow him. He overcame all the obstacles along the way. Wanting so much to please his Heavenly Father, he strove always to do “His will”, talking frequently with Him in prayer and always seeking to know Him better by listening to His Word and heeding His advice. He kept his eyes firmly fixed on the goal before him, laying aside all distractions and ran faithfully to the end.

A glorious bond was forged between him and his God and His spirit was with him throughout his race. So we must endeavour to follow his example. We are in this race as honoured, chosen participants striving our hardest to do our best to please our Lord, to endure faithfully to the end. So, as we “run the straight race through God’s good grace”, let us “lift up our eyes and seek His face”.

Let Us Consider One Another

Let us ever be mindful and considerate one of another, and not impede each other along the way. Rather let us be ready to help and encourage, especially the new, young runners who join the race, giving them helpful advice on how to overcome the trials and temptations that beset our paths. We can fetch “the cup of cold water” to refresh a tired and weak runner who is staggering and thirsty in his race to the Kingdom. We can help move an obstacle that is blocking a runner’s path. We can come alongside and holding one’s hand or with our arm around one’s shoulder we can help to make the running easier for one who is under stress and struggling along the way. We could make a phone call or write a short note to encourage those who have strayed from the course and given up the race, to come back on the track and take up their race with us again. We can stop to lend a helping hand to a runner who has fallen over. We can gently and lovingly help to bind up their wounds and ease the pain of their injuries. Then with loving and reassuring arms around them, let us assist them to their feet and taking their hand in ours, let us continue to run on our way, rejoicing. We never lose ground when we stop to help others along the way, but rather, we feel refreshed and uplifted to surge on again with added vigour.

Let Us Hold Fast

 At times we stumble and sometimes fall. When we do, let us not give up in despair, but rather look up and see in faith the loving hand of our Heavenly Father reaching out to us in forgiveness to lift us up and with grace to help in our time of need. So let us “faint not, nor fear, for His Arms are near, He changeth not, and thou art dear”. As we go on then, let us forget those things which are behind – our past achievements or failures – and concentrate on the “joy set before us”. As one marathon runner once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall, and to keep on running”.

The signposts all along our course are telling us that the end of our race is near. Let us then continue to “run with patience” together the race that God has set before us, realising that our race for life eternal is a marathon and not a sprint, and that “the race is not to the swift but to those who keep on running”, faithfully to the end.

Remember, God wants us for His Kingdom – it will be His joy and pleasure to present all His tired but faithful runners with that glorious prize of life eternal in His Kingdom. What a wonderful, wonderful time that will be when “we who wait upon Yahweh shall renew our strength” … and when we can “run and not be weary and walk and not be faint”. (Isa 40:31).

Even so come, Lord Jesus!