Running the Right Race

When I was in junior high school, my love of running bade me to try my luck at track and field. At my first race, I was indignant when each girl was placed somewhere differently on the track, especially when the finish line was the same. Some girls were given spots up ahead while others of us were stuck way behind. From where I stood, this was completely unfair. Obviously, someone had made a mistake. But I was too shy to argue with the official.

The gun went off before I could figure out how to resolve this disparity. All I could do was run as fast as possible. Then, quickly enough, I was ahead of the pack. Way ahead. For all the headache of being taller than the boys my age, this was the one place where I appreciated my long legs. Curiosity got the better of me, though, and I looked back to see what kind of margin I had.

A smile crossed my face as I determined this race to be an easy win. I ran some more but I was also interested to see how things were going behind me. So I stole another backward glimpse. This time, a girl seemed a little closer. I pushed harder. Then once more, I glanced over my shoulder. She was closing in. By the time we reached the finish line, she had edged me out of the blue ribbon. I could only conclude that she beat me by virtue of the fact that she was no longer in need of a training bra.

Panting and hunched over, I didn’t notice my coach running towards me. My coach yelled, over the roar of the other team’s cheers, “Why did you look back? You could have won if only you wouldn’t have looked back! Looking back always slows a runner down!”

My coach knew the secret to finishing first and he waited until now to tell me?

Looking back always slows a runner down.
I’ve never forgotten this lesson.

There are times when it’s important, even necessary, to consider events of the past – to reflect and learn from them. But then there comes a time when we must stop dwelling on the past. Paul admonishes us to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13).

When running in this race called life, we need not be so concerned with how others are faring either behind us or in front of us. We need only concern ourselves with running the “race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

For me, one of the ways I run the race marked out for me is that I know my strengths. I know what areas of gifting that I am to commit myself to. By focusing on the few things I know I do well, I am able to accomplish so much more. When I spread myself too thin and take on too much, I am not productive.

At the same time, I don’t involve myself with unhealthy drama. When I surround myself with healthy people, I am uplifted by wholesome conversations. It’s too easy to get caught up with how other people are running their race. This is why the writer of Hebrews warns us to throw off everything that hinders us and entangles us (Hebrews 12:1). Unhealthy drama mires us and drags us down, rendering us incapable of continuing our own race.

I am often reminded of my old coach’s advice: Looking back always slows a runner down.

What are some ways that you stay focused
on running the race marked out for you?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

7 thoughts on “Running the Right Race

  1. What are some ways that you stay focused
    on running the race marked out for you?

    Daily Bible reading and prayer are the keys for me 🙂

    Take care and have a great week 🙂


  2. MY: “Good choices produce good results.” I'm thankful this is true.

    LW21: Yep, it's a long-distance marathon, not a sprint. Always good to remember!

    Tami: Good for you for starting to run!

    Shelly: Thank you.

    “Old Geezer”: Absolutely! Daily Bible reading and prayer are key!

  3. I've started running this year for the first time in my life and am finding all kinds of life lessons. I've been chanting, “Run your own race. Run your own race. Run your own race.” Can you tell my adventure involves lots of humility? Ugh. But it's good for me and I'm excited to learn. Thanks for the lesson in not looking back and focusing on my strengths.

  4. D.J.
    Good choices generally produce good results. Deciding not to “involve yourself in unnecessary drama” is not only a good choice, it is a very strong and healthy one. Good for you!

    Someone once told me, we don't drive a car looking constantly at the rear view mirror, and we should not live life that way either! 🙂 Sure, we must check it once in a while, but it should not be our focus.

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