Running to Win

Randy Alcorn in his book, Heaven shares this story: “In 1952, a young woman named Florence Chadwick stepped off Catalina Island, into the Pacific Ocean. Her goal was to swim to the shore of mainland California, 21 miles away. It was foggy and chilly. She could barely see the boats that traveled alongside her. Florence swam for fifteen hours. She begged to be taken out of the water. Her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she gave up and stopped swimming. They pulled her out. When Florence was on the boat she discovered the truth – the shore was less than half a mile away. She was 98% of the way home. At the news conference the next day she said this – “All I could see was the fog…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.” Can you relate to those words? At times, the fog is so thick – it’s difficult to see in front of us. We end up focusing on the fog because we can’t see the shore. Sometimes we give up because we don’t think we have the strength to stay afloat any longer. I want you to know that God desires you to go the distance, and that He will enable you to do it!

All of us are facing what potentially could be the best years of our lives! Everything that we need is literally at our disposal. God is more eager to run with us, than we are willing to invite Him along for the run. The Christian life is likened unto a race. Jesus put you in the race and He will be the first to embrace you at the finish. Do you remember the words of Hebrews 12:1-­-3? “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” And who can forget the words of Paul in 1Corinthians 9:24? “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” This race it’s unlike any other race that you have ever been in or will be in. It’s a race in which everyone can win, though not everyone will. You are not in competition with one another. You are running in a life-­-long course that has been set before you – it is tailored to you. No one size fits all solutions today! It’s not about who scores the best grades, lands the best university placements, gets the best jobs, earns the most money, and collects the most toys before they die. It’s about living the best you can with what God has given you and desires to give you. Though there are no formulas for living to win, there are certain truths that if embraced, will help you along the way.

Life at times is both challenging and demanding, so rigorous effort and dedication will be required, but remember it is not the sum total of your life. There’s a British expression that says: “Too much work makes Jack a dull boy.” But it’s worse than that, it numbs Jack, it parches Jack, it hardens Jack, and it kills his heart. When we get too busy, everything become either a trudge or a scramble – the doldrums or sheer mayhem. When that happens our capacity for steadfastness and adventure shrivels. So take a moment and STOP. Ask yourself this question: “Is the path that you’re currently travelling leading you to a place that you want to go…more importantly, where God wants you to go?” Plot the trajectory of your thoughts and attitudes about life…“Will they lead you to a place you care to live?” A few degrees off course is no big deal, if your only walking a short distance, but over a lifetime it will take you a long way off course! All areas of your life are important to God, because all of life is sacred. You will need to learn a liberating truth: GOD loves you and everyone else has a plan for you life. If you don’t learn to redeem/use your time wisely, everyone else will. God has given you all the time and ability you need to do what He wants done – so it’s doable! Variety is the spice of life, so enjoy the diversity that every facet of your life has to offer!

In Psalm 16:11, David says this about why he hungers and yearns for God: “You will make known to me the paths of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures evermore.” This is not merely a statement of fact, it is an incentive to pursue God. We come to Him and seek after Him with all our heart because in His presence our joy is made full. No one else and nothing else can do this. Money can’t buy it. Only being with God can bring us all the joy we could ever hope to find. Think about what David is saying: God is offering us a joy that infinitely transcends all other joys combined in the power and potential to satisfy, thrill, fill, and fulfil. He is talking about spiritual ecstasy – incomparable ecstasy – unparalleled ecstasy – and unfathomable ecstasy! And it is all to be found in only one place: in God’s presence, at His right hand.

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