God places dreams, desires, and goals within us for our good and for His Kingdom advancement. Yet even when we know they are from God, we can become distracted. They can be ‘slow’ to appear and our gaze shifts. Life can be hectic, or we grow tired, and our focus wanes. But like an Olympic-level athlete racing toward the prize, focus is key!
Join us as we discover how we can run our race and keep our gaze on the prize!
Focus on the Scripture…
As Believers, some of the most important tools involved in our decision making should begin with these two questions: “Is it biblical?” and “Does it align with God’s character?”
The answers these two questions bring to us when confronted with a questionable situation or uncertainty in our lives, or whether we should consider a new path, will point us in the right direction…
If it IS biblically aligned with God’s Word and ways, then there is obviously a connection to God-given inspiration. But while this confirmation is a wonderful start, it doesn’t automatically mean that WE are meant to move forward in it or right away. We need to take this first positive answer a step further, praying and seeking God’s heart on the matter—if it’s meant for us… for now or in the future.
Alternatively, if it is not biblically aligned with God’s Word and ways, then we need to step back and seek God’s direction. God would not have us move forward in something that is against His character and Word—God does not lie or change—and therefore our thoughts and plans need to be realigned to His.
But what does the Word of God say about where we should fix our gaze and how we are meant to run our race? What biblical lessons will help keep us on the right track?
Fix Your Gaze | Run Your Race
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.“—Hebrews 12:1-2 (emphasis added)
According to Hebrews 12, we are meant to lay aside anything that will hold us back or weigh us down—sin, doubt, unbelief, fear, etc.—and we are to run! But not simply run. No, we are meant to run with endurance! Because the race that has been set before us can be long and the prize is great…
Yet, it is important to remember that we did not put the race itself or even the prize before us. God did! And because He created the race, it is imperative that we fix our gaze to where God designed us to. We are meant to look to Jesus. To set our gaze straight ahead—at the goal—and run toward Him, seeking His will!
Yes, the race mentioned is often considered ‘reaching Heaven,’ but that is only a part of the race—of the prize. Getting to Heaven does not mean that someone lived every day of their life in alignment with God. Someone who finds God in their last moments of life can enter Heaven, and in terms of time on earth, that might be considered a sprint rather than a race of endurance. But while God loves all who find Him, no matter if it was in their first or last moments of life, the race of endurance set before us is meant to be more than ‘winning a trip to Heaven.’ It is meant to be a lifestyle.
Therefore, we have to lay aside any sin, everything that holds us back, so that we can run and run with endurance. Not trying to take shortcuts through another runner’s lane, but instead, staying on the path God has prepared for us.
The Lifestyle of Running the Race
The race set before us requires a lifestyle; one quite similar to a professional athlete…
A professional athlete has to:
- Watch What They Consume
- Work & Stretch Their Muscles
- Create Goals | for health, races, daily/weekly activities to win races
- Limit Distractions
- Learn to Perform in Good Times & Bad | in all circumstances & weather
- Maintain Passion | continuing even when mood or attitude is not right, or not wanting to train
- Fix Their Eyes on Their Goal | maintaining purpose to stay on track, turning even the undesirable training into something that is enjoyed
All these things and more are required of most professional athletes. From the Olympic-level gymnast or sprinter to the Wimbledon-level tennis player, and beyond. And we, like them, have much in common when it comes to running the race God has set before us…
Especially when it comes to running with endurance and creating a lifestyle of Godly excellence.
Like the professional athletes discussed above we have to:
- Watch What We Consume | using Godly wisdom to know what we should allow ourselves to see, hear, eat, etc.
- Work & Stretch Our Muscles | muscles of faith, kindness, Godly thoughts and actions
- Create Goals | understanding the call & purpose God has given us and allowing His wisdom to help us create long & short-term goals to fulfill His will
- Limit Distractions | knowing what our call, purpose & goals are, we are able to see the distractions and know how to limit them
- Learn to Perform in Good Times & Bad | in seasons of plenty or in seasons of lack, we press in to fix our eyes on God & run the race no matter which season we are in
- Maintain Passion | passion is a deep desire, but it cannot be led by emotions; there are tasks we do not like, there are days when we do not want to train, but every step is necessary to reach the prize—we have to find that passion and determination daily
- Fix Our Eyes on the Goal | Jesus is the ideal place to fix our eyes, because even those things that God has set for us to do can lead us off track if they become more important than He is; by fixing our eyes on the goal—on Jesus—we not only maintain purpose but are able to find joy in all circumstances
Yet even with these disciplines, there will still be days where things get off track. Where the enemy or our own desires lead us in the wrong direction. Where we do not ‘feel’ like doing something. Or where things are taking too long for our liking. And these can all lead us to consume things we should not, to get out of the lifestyle of training and binge on whatever we want—be it self-pity or selfish desires. Or trying to take shortcuts and break through doors not meant for us, to get into another athlete’s lane.
This is why Jesus needs to be at the center of our focus. Our gaze. Because He is like the coach of a professional athlete. He will tell us how to prepare. He will encourage us as we prepare for and run our race. He will guide us in what we need to do.
But God has given us a free will—we do not have to keep Him as our coach. He will not chain us to Himself. He will let us run into another athlete’s lane out of jealousy or stop running altogether. Yet, when we give Him the attention and freedom to coach us as only He can… we become empowered. We are not only able to run the race, but run it with endurance.
Run to Obtain the Prize
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”—1 Corinthians 9:24
Running in a race is one thing, but winning is another. As children of the Most High God, we are meant to be more than conquerors. We are meant to run in such a way that we can achieve the prize!
The ultimate ‘prize’ is Salvation—the Crown of Life in Christ Jesus. In reality, the ‘prize’ is a gift of grace. Something we cannot earn. But in the race we run—the race of the upward call—we can achieve a prize. The prize of hearing, “well done, good and faithful servant.” The prize of being allowed to bring God’s Kingdom and will to earth.
In whatever Mountain of influence God has called us to. In whatever God has placed on our hearts to do for His Kingdom. By fixing our eyes on God, removing any weight that holds us back as we follow Him, we will not only have the endurance needed to run the race, but to win it!
It doesn’t matter if the race God has put before us involves running a restaurant, raising children, preaching full time, or driving a taxi… whatever He would have us do is important! Whatever He would have us do is a part of the race He has put before us. And no matter if we are in a season where He is keeping us hidden on distant mountain roads or having us run in a stadium full of people, He wants us to run as if each portion of the race is the most important. He wants us to fix our gaze on Him so that He can help us run and run with endurance!
Are you ready to run your race with endurance? Are you ready to run in such a way that you will achieve the prize? Are you ready to run the race of faith?
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”—2 Timothy 4:7
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”—Acts 20:24
It is time for a lifestyle of faith… of obedience… of Kingdom purpose. It is time to fix our eyes on Jesus and run… and then… keep on running—staying the course—until we reach the prize. Until we hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.”