From Philippians 3:13-14 – “…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Ah, Spartan Race… so many spiritual parallels in such an earthy race. The results are in… but the most important result was clear after the remainder of our team crossed the finish line. And that was this… we all finished. When it comes to following Jesus, the most important thing is that we get to the finish line. Everything else, like the past, fades.
This was my third year at Spartan, and I walked away with more bumps, bruises, scrapes, and sprains than ever before (still nursing my left shoulder and left foot even now), but I’m even more excited for next year’s race. Some obstacles were harder, some were easier, some were brand new, and some were noticeably absent. I did better at some points, worse at others, about the same at others. Some points I did by myself. Some points I was able to help others. Some points I was in desperate need of help or I wouldn’t have made it. I trained better this year so I recovered quicker. But I also ran with a cold so I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted.
But this is what I noticed most of all. The one thing that was extremely different for me was that I was less sore in the days after the race than after the previous two years.
I’ve noticed this about the different aspects of following Jesus in my own life. When I confront challenges a second, third, or tenth time around, I am less “sore,” spiritually speaking, after all is said and done. Whether I do better, worse, or about the same in the midst of the challenge, I come away after being less affected, in the long term, by the trauma that came the first time around. James seems to be making a point about this spiritually at the beginning of his letter…
(from James 1:2-4) “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Nothing like Spartan Race to illustrate, in very physical terms, several deep spiritual realities. I could list many, many more, but this is enough for now. Wherever you are spiritually, I encourage you to run hard and keep running, pressing on toward the ultimate goal, which is a heavenly prize of knowing God more and more, among other great gifts and promises. And the more you run, the stronger you’ll become.
I needed this message today. I’ve been feeling a little defeated for the last few weeks. Thanks for the encouragement.
There was one obstacle in particular where I lost my balance and started sliding backwards back into a mud pit. If it wasn’t for two hands from two buddies reaching out to catch my outstretched arm (and panicked cry for “help!”), I wouldn’t have made it. You’re not defeated, at most you just need a hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out.