Meditations by John Dean

Monday, December 29, 2014

Running the Race

(1 Corinthians 9:24 KJV)  Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

Perhaps the reason the term ‘run’ is used so many times in the Bible is because it, (like a healthy relationship with the Lord) requires total commitment. This kind of commitment includes the whole body…the muscles, the mind and especially the heart.

One might even describe life as a series of races. That being the case then it would also suggest that one must live with a runner’s mindset.

Running life’s race could mean different things to different people. To one it could mean trying to make a decent living and paying the bills. To another it could mean trying to live a good Christian life and yet to another it may mean trying to eat right and live a healthy life. To another person it could even mean being physically and mentally active throughout their life.

However, there are others who spend their entire working life planning for their retirement because they have grown weary of life’s challenges. The apostle Paul said, “....brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2Timothy 3:13).

To some folks retirement means the ending of one phase of their life and the beginning of another. To other folks retirement means quitting all together because they are either tired of trying to win in life or they have physical problems. In either case they have ‘grown weary in well doing’ and therefore have chosen to pull out of the race altogether.

Anyone can run in a race but it takes resilience to win a race. The question is…what is resilience and how does one get it?  The only way one can develop resilience is by overcoming his natural tendency to resist pain and discomfort. The fact is, a true runner usually lives with a measure of pain and discomfort because they expect more from their muscles, mind and heart.

The question still remains, “What is resilience?” Resilience is the ability to spring back or to rebound from being bent as the result of difficult experiences.

I was in Tucson, Arizona a few days ago and on the evening of my arrival I was invited to have dinner with some friends and their three young adult children. The dinner was superb and the conversation that evening was very inspiring.

I found the training of these young adults to be extremely interesting because their training ranged from the medical field to sports to even being trained as a Hollywood actor. Even though I was inspired by all of them I was particularly drawn to the brightness of their daughter.

The next day as my friend and I were walking through the University of Arizona campus praying I commented on all the young people wearing their caps and gowns for graduation. My friend said, “Well, it will only be a couple of hours before I am here for my daughter’s graduation”.

I said, “I know you must be very proud of her because she is so sharp that I bet she did not have to study much to make all those good grades”. He said “Quite the contrary…she had to study very hard but she is the most resilient person I know…she just does not give up”.

The more I thought about her resilience the more I understood what Paul was saying in our text. Talent alone does not make one a winner…it takes resilience.

Perhaps that is the way it is with our walk with the Lord. Anyone can be happy as a Christian as long as everything goes well and there are no challenges. However, when things are not going well and life seems to be full of challenges…some folks want to drop out of the race all together.

I think what Paul was saying is that resilience is the key ingredient to winning in both our natural life as well as our spiritual life.

Help us to be a resilient people who refuse to entertain the thought of giving up. Lord, our desire is to see each challenge in life as stepping stones toward building a winning character and one who can stay true to the race and not be distracted by discomfort. For these things we give You all the praise.

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