RUN TO WIN
M. J. Jacob
The writer of the Hebrews presents, with a striking force, guidelines for running our earthly course. It is His passionate appeals to run to win the race. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of the faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:1, 2). This short life of ours which God has given is very precious. The writer exhorts us to run the race well to win the trophy. Let us have a look into our lives. How are we running?
Recently I read a book, In search of you by Mario Joseph, a Muslim cleric, who became a Christian. He has quoted a simple story which you may have come across. Once a dog spotted a hare jumping out of a bush and chased it. Seeing the dog running, other dogs also joined without realising what the first dog was running for. On the way, still more dogs followed. Some of the dogs asked the dogs that were running why they are running. Those dogs replied that they were running, simply because the other dogs were running, and did not know the reason. After some time, all those dogs, which did not see the hare, got tired and stopped running. The dog chasing the hare did not give up the pursuit until it was able to overcome the hare and catch it.
Where Am I Running?
A funny story indeed! But, there are lessons for us to learn. We are in a mad world. We find a mad rush everywhere. As an octogenerian, I look back. I have never before seen such mad rush as at present. We find everyone is running. We Christians are also running. When someone asks us “Where are you running?,“ we answer we are running simply because we see others running. Let us pause for a while. The writer of the Hebrews asks us to run with patience. Let us have patience with ourselves first. Let us get into a quiet time away from the rush of this crazy and greedy world. Let us have a time for reflection. Let us ask ourselves 'Where am I running to? What for am I running this earthly course? Is there any aim, a purpose in my running? Is the destination in view?' Let us have patience. Let us spent some time with our Master Trainer, our Divine Coach. Time spent with our Divine Coach will never be a waste. Instead, it will help us to equip ourselves to run to win the race.
Look To Jesus
Second, we have to run looking to Jesus. Not to any other leader. Very often we are tempted to follow the leader who attracts the crowd. Sometimes, we adore that leader and follow him, instead of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master who is our only leader. Hero worship. I remember, I was trapped in this cage for sometime. As I involved myself in some Ministries, I was often tempted to regard the leader as great. Thank God, He pulled me out of the nest and set me on the right track. We have to run the race looking to Jesus only and not get side-tracked.
Third, as we run looking to Jesus, we have to run with a conviction. We are not meant to mingle with the crowd of followers and to run aimlessly. If we are running without conviction, we are like those stray dogs that joined the rest, and will end up in despair. We should have the conviction and a personal experience with our loving Lord Jesus Christ, the experience which Paul shares in his glorious utterance in Galatians 2:20, "The life I live in the body, I live by the faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." I am running looking to Him who washed me in His precious blood and redeemed me. As I run, I maintain a right relationship with my Lord.
We often find many nominal Christians who follow the crowd. They are satisfied being born and brought up in Christian families. To many Christians, their faith is not real, but only an inference. That is why they join the crowd which runs after the world. Let us run looking unto Jesus with the conviction of the personal relationship with Him. "I am His and He is mine.' As we look into the life of Moses, we find, he ran the race and won. He had a very good run because he ran 'Seeing Him who is Invisible" (Heb. 11:27). 'By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing who is invisible.'
Fourth, Let us lay aside every weight. Yes, we have to get rid of our extra weight, if want to run to win. We have to get rid of the besetting sins which are hindrances in our running. Our Divine Coach will train us up to lose the extra weight. He will reveal to us the hidden sins, the love of money, attraction to the world and its pleasures and all that hinders us to run well. Our Divine Master will help us by His Spirit to overcome all the sins that beset us and will help us run to win.
Fifth, we have to run with a purpose. Our aim, our purpose, is to win the race. We have to run and finish this earthly course with a purpose. Pastor Rick Warren's book Purpose Driven Life is a guide which helps us to run with a purpose. Our lives should be purposeful; only then will we able to win the race. Rick Warren has clarified this point: "People ask me, what is the purpose of life and I respond. In a nutshell, life is a preparation for eternity. We were made by God to last for ever and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop. That will be the end of my body. But not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth. But I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This earthly life is a warm up act-a dress rehearsal of God. He wants us to practise for our work in eternity. We have to learn that we were made by God and for God. This is very important. Life is not going to make sense unless you learn this lesson. We are made by God and for Him only."
Sixth, we have to run with a destination in view. If we run without a destination, we are destined to fall out in the run. Abraham's life inspires us. He had the vision of the destination. "Abraham looked for a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God" (Heb.11:10). This earth is not our permanent abode. "Here, we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Heb. 13:14). Are we running with a destination in view? Our journey does not stop with death. Our destination is heaven. A new kingdom, new mansions. Fresh avenues for fresh work and service. Paul said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are all people the most pitiable" (1 Cor. 15:19).
What a great privilege! Our destination is the new kingdom where we not only worship and sing praises to God, but we will be actively involved in His service. John, in his vision, said, "His servants shall serve Him" (Rev. 22:3). We do not know what kind of service God will allot to us in the New Kingdom. It will depend on how well we run the race of earthly course. If we run with our glorious destination in view, we will be able to run with enthusiasm, joy and delight, and our earthly run will not be boring, but challenging.
May God help us to run the race of this life with patience, looking unto Jesus, with conviction, purpose and with our glorious destination in view.
Take time to be holy, let Him be Thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide;
In joy or in sorrow, still follow Thy Lord,
And looking to Jesus still trust in His Word.