Running to Win
For the past 27 years of my life, I had been a recreational, health-and-wellness jogger, right up to my 60th birthday. At that juncture of my life, I decided it was time to add a half marathon (13.1 miles) to my accomplishments. I have now finished NINE of them – all in the last 2 ½ years. That achievement not being enough for me, at 62 ½, I registered for the competitive 5K (3.1 mi.) and 10K (6.2 mi.) in the Texas Senior Games last month.
Wow, was I in for a shock! When you run in a qualifying event, and you don’t place in the top 3, you learn very quickly that you don’t get a medal, or a trophy, or even a pat on the back! Now, that’s a totally different experience than the other races in which I’ve participated, where there are professional photographers on the course snapping pictures of my running physique, water and snack stations every 2 to 3 miles to keep us nourished and hydrated, and at the finish line, medals for all finishers, chocolate milk, tacos, donuts, and t-shirts. The goal of all that folderol? To make each one who finishes feel like a winner!
In the Senior Games qualifier races last month, the prizes only went to the winners – the ones who ran first and crossed the finish line first…no shirts, no finisher’s medals, not even chocolate milk. I have to admit, after running my absolute best times ever and finding myself completely gassed out crossing the finish line, I found these races to be much more like real life – with clear winners and losers. I represented the latter well.
May I be so brazen as to suggest that I’m fearful that we, the church (and making a generalization, of course), treat our faith more like a half marathon with a participation/finisher medal at the end, rather than a race to run so as to win the prize? I’m fearful that we’re so satisfied with just the “golden ticket” into heaven that we’re just barely more than spectators in a race that the Apostle Paul admonishes us to go all in!
Why run this race with all you’ve got?
Is it not to win the prize of becoming like the Savior, becoming the person God created you to be, and hearing those awesome words from the One who was all in for you, “Well done, good and faithful servant?” Honestly, I believe the greatest disappointment we will have when we’re translated into the presence of the Almighty is that our faith was just so-so. We will grasp that we could have been so much more; not only were we called to win the race of faith, to fight and finish, but to encourage all those around us to likewise run and finish this awesome race heavenward.
So the question we all must ask in our faith walk is, do we want to just finish, or do we want to win the prize of the upward call of our Lord Jesus?
By Jim Faulk, Area Director of the Greater San Antonio Fellowship of Christian Athletes.