24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 1 Corinthians 9:24 NASB
Back in the late 1970’s, through the 1980’s and even into the late 1990’s I was a runner. I trained on long daily runs between 6 and 7 minutes per mile. During a race, I could lower that by quite a bit when the time was right, like the last few hundred yards to the finish line. You would never believe that that was true by looking at me now that I am in my mid-60’s. My left knee will not allow me to run anymore. I miss it. However, I do remember very well preparing for a race and that high anxiety, high-energy period leading up to the starting gun. Then there would be the mad sprint for the first few hundred yards before the experienced runners would settle in and run according to their strategy. My favorite races were those in which the finish line was around a turn instead of at the end of a long straight. In those, I could hear the people at the finish line, but I could not see them. Then as I made the last turn to sprint to the finish line the people would begin applauding, some cried encouraging things. Then there was the last 50 yards or so in which I would run as fast as I physically could. As I crossed that finish line, it was incredible to look up at the clock and be amazed that I was physically able to cover that many kilometers or miles in such a short time. I would look back and the line of runners still on the course would stretch down the road. There was one common thread for me in all those years of running. If I trained well, I raced well. If I could not put in the miles in training for whatever reason, I simply could not compete. This is a direct parallel for us in how we walk before the face of God in our daily walk in this life. There is no way we can have the spiritual acumen to run the race set before us by God if we do not prepare correctly to do so. Then as we run the race, we must do so correctly or we will run poorly and may even fall out in shame.