The runners are at the starting blocks. The race is about to begin.
The starting gun fires! The runners leap into action!
But something’s wrong. Instead of speeding around the track, they clunk; they lumber; they stumble and fall. These runners didn’t come prepared to race. They are all bogged down with heavy clothes and boots, backpacks, and luggage with broken rollers.
Before they make even a dozen steps, those in the stands begin throwing things at them. As they try to dodge the debris, the runners are assaulted by vendors on the sidelines hawking their wares. Many leave the track to buy more stuff that they will have to carry to the finish line. Some stop to have huge meals and then are too lethargic to continue the race until they’ve had a nap.
The spectators boo and yell out criticisms. Some of the runners get so discouraged that they stop dead in their tracks, unable to do anything but focus on what they are hearing and seeing. One is crumpled and weeping in the middle of the course.
But then a runner emerges from the crowd of athletes. He’s shucking the baggage and the heavy clothing. He’s ignoring the criticisms from the spectators and the vendors hawking their wares. He picks up speed. Within moments, he’s at a full sprint!
As he runs, the boos and the criticisms fade into the background and he begins to notice the sound of cheers. Glancing to his right, he sees that the stands are filled not just with catcallers but also with enthusiastic supporters. The harder he runs, the easier it is for him to tune out the negative voices. By the time he crosses the finish line, all he can hear is the euphoric applause of his fans.
In this story, the race represents our life as Christians. We are the runners. The starting blocks indicate the moment we accepted Christ. The finish line is heaven. The heavy clothes and baggage represent the burdens that we bring into the race – our sin, our emotional baggage, our hang-ups, our misunderstandings about God…
The spectators represent both the heavenly host of angels and the demons, who are watching God’s plan play out as we run the race. The projectiles they throw are fears, worries and doubts. The vendors represent Satan’s emissaries, doing whatever they can to distract us from our mission. The heavy meals represent our materialism, that dulls our spiritual craving for godliness.
Most of us are ill-equipped to run this race. We bring so much junk with us to the starting line, and we have no idea how to deal with Satan’s attacks. But as odd as it may seem, we do our training while we round the track. We carry our Bible with us as we run. And it doesn’t slow us down; it helps us get rid of the junk and makes us faster.
So, start your race every day with your Bible and quit listening to the hecklers. The heavenly host is cheering you on!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)