The stadium is buzzing with eager anticipation. Cheers echo through the crowd as we watch the runners gather at the starting line. The starter calls “on your marks,” and each woman lines up in her lane. At the sound of the gun the runners are off like rockets, pacing themselves for the long race ahead.
This scene is how I imagine the readers of this blog. The track is your school. The goal is to run the race of faith well.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The Christian life is often described as a race, but how do you and I apply that to our daily living? Especially as the school year starts, how do we run our races well when distractions seem to pull us in every direction? (These principles are not only applicable to those of us in school. Even if you’ve graduated, don’t stop reading!)
Here are five training exercises the Bible gives us that I believe will help you run a fantastic race this year!
1. Prayer is essential.
Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
Only He can give you
the strength to run a winning race!
Prayer is a Christian’s secret weapon. No matter what distractions are thrown at us or how many opportunities to veer off track present themselves, we have the power of the Holy Spirit on our side! This is the same power that defeated enemies of Israel using hailstones (Josh. 10:9–11), made the sun stand still for a day (Josh. 10:13), and raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11). The Lord is waiting for you to ask Him for help. Only He can give you
the strength to run a winning race!
2. Hook arms with a partner.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he
falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecc. 4:9–10).
Training for a marathon is easier with a friend because partners can keep each other accountable and pick up each other’s slack. It’ll be a lot easier and more fun if you have a friend spurring you on to stay on course and run a good race.
Who is a great Christian friend at your school? Ask them to run alongside you this year.
3. Focus on your own race.
If we’re focused on how someone else is running, we won’t be able to give our own race everything we’ve got.
During the Summer Olympics, one race stood out to me. Michael Phelps was swimming against a competitor who had bragged that he would defeat Phelps. Nearing the finish line, the competitor looked over at Phelps, and it cost him the race. Instead of focusing on doing his best, this guy was looking at someone else. And he lost. Big time.
I’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy. If we’re focused on how someone else is running, we won’t be able to give our own race everything we’ve got. Full focus is what it will take to run a successful race.
4. Evaluate your opportunities.
This year you will face opportunities and distractions. So how do you evaluate which opportunities will help your race and which distractions will hurt your race?
- Talk to your parents or mentor.
- Run to God’s Word.
After that, make sure those opportunities are not diverting you off course but helping you run a better race.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
5. When you fall down, get back up!
You can run your race well, but you will not run it perfectly. You’re going to become distracted often and fall occasionally. But thankfully this isn’t a 100-meter sprint. It’s a marathon. You can recover from a fall. Think of King David, Rahab, Saul (who became Paul), and Peter. These are men and women who tripped and fell but managed, by God’s grace, to get back up and continue racing. This brings us right back to Hebrews 12:
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at
the right hand of the throne of God (v. 2).
You know what’s awesome? We’re not alone on this race of life! We have the Holy Spirit with us, and we have the ultimate example in Jesus of someone who ran a successful life race, never veering off course! We can run our races well by following His lead.
On your mark. Get set. Go!