I have never run a marathon, but I know people who have and I admire them. The amount of hard work they put into training for the race is incredible. Yet as prepared as they may be, you can still see the pain and exhaustion on their face as the finish line gets closer. I’m sure there is a part of them that wishes they could quit. A part of them that starts to wonder how much further they have to go. But with laser-like focus, they fight back those thoughts and stay the course. They hang in there because they can’t wait for the feeling they will get when they finally make it across the finish line.
Successfully running a marathon requires preparation. Runners train consistently. They select the proper running attire. They choose the right foods and liquids They protect their body from the attacks of injury and illness. And they stay motivated in the midst of the day-to-day struggles of training.
Successfully living the Christian life also requires preparation. Spiritual training comes in the form of regularly reading your Bible and allowing the Holy Spirit to show you how to apply it to life. Selecting the proper attire involves taking off the old sinful nature that weighs you down and putting on the new nature you received in Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24) Choosing the right foods and liquids means staying focused on Jesus who is the bread of life and who promises that if we drink the water he gives us, we will never be thirsty again. (John 4:14) All of these things will help to protect us from the attacks that Satan will throw at us and ensure that our soul remains healthy and ready for the race. And finally – we can stay motivated for the day-to-day struggles of life by remembering what awaits us at the finish line.
I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the Crown of Righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Christ followers are promised a few different crowns as our reward for staying the course and crossing the finish line. The Crown of Righteousness is one that is not based on how righteous we are on our own, but on the righteousness we receive through Jesus Christ when we surrender our life to him. When we are running the race of life and the terrain gets tricky, we need to remember that even though our legs may be ready to give out on us, Jesus is running alongside us and he will carry us over the finish line.