In several passages in the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses the analogy of a foot race when speaking about our walk with Christ. Having run the New York City Marathon in 1993, I am really able to relate to this analogy.
When I made the decision in 1992 that I would run the marathon the following year, I knew that I needed to prepare myself in order to run a distance of 26.2 miles. I had to begin a regimen of strict physical training that included running several times a week at increasingly longer distances in order to build up the stamina I would need. In our walk with Christ, as we move toward our goal of finishing well, we need spiritual training. We need to spend time with the Lord, we need to read His Word daily, and we need to be in fellowship with other believers who can encourage us along the way.
My goal in running the marathon was to finish the race and receive the medal that is given to all finishers. In Acts 20:24, Paul says that his goal was to finish the race and complete the task set before him by Jesus Christ. That task was to testify to the good news of God's grace. As believers, that should be our goal as well. We are all called to complete that very same task, a task that was given to us by Jesus before His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:7-9).
Running a marathon is not an easy task. It requires perseverance. It may also require that you get rid of things that are hindering you. The NYC Marathon is held in the month of November, which typically is a chilly month. In the year that I ran, I dressed in layers so that I would not be cold as I ran the race. But on the day that I ran, the temperatures were in the 70s. All of those layers became a hindrance to finishing the race, so I needed to throw some of them off. When our walk with Christ is being hindered by people, places, or things that are pulling us away from the Lord, we need to throw off those hindrances so that we may continue to run the race with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1).
Although it wasn't easy and I sometimes felt like giving up, I did finish my marathon. I fought through the negative thoughts and crossed the finish line. In our walk with Christ, we must also fight that good fight, keeping our faith before us in order to finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7). As I crossed the finish line in Central Park in 1993, I was handed the medal that I was running for. While I am proud of my accomplishment and treasure that medal, it pales in comparison to the crown which we will all receive when we finish our walk with Christ here on earth. That is a prize that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25).