Well this is taking longer then I though. As I work through each point I hope to keep it short but I just can’t seem to do that.
7. There are other runners. Like all races, there are other runners. In the race I was in there were over 3,000 participants combined in all the races. Having others running the race was not a bad thing, it actually inspired me to do better. The Monday before the race while I was at the Outter Banks, in Duck, NC I ran/walked 4 miles. Granted, it was in the middle of the afternoon, but for the most part it was fairly flat with a few rises on the course. It took me an hour and 8 minutes to complete the 4 miles. When I ran the actual race, as noted earlier, it took me just under 50 minutes. In addition, Lynchburg is called the “Hill City” for a reason and for a large portion of the course we were going up a long hill. Why do I think I did better? For various reasons, but one of the main reasons is because I was running with other runners. There was something about running with 3000+ runners that was inspiring and encouraging. It helped me to focus more and push myself further than had I been running alone. It is the same in the Christian race. There is something about living the Christian life and having others running with you.
When Christ sent out his disciples, he sent them two by two. Paul took various missionary journeys and as he went he had others with him. Why? Because it is important not only to have someone with you to encourage you along the way but to help push you to do more and go further then you may have ever dreamed had you gone alone. As I ran my race, in a sense, the other runners, by their very presence were pushing me to go further, to go faster, to not give up. Although we need no one but Christ and His strength to finish our course, isn’t it a blessing to run the Christian life with fellow believers? Running the race that morning I saw strangers encouraging other strangers. It didn’t matter who you were, what you looked like or how you ran, people were encouraging each other to help them finish the race before them. As Christians, to be able to turn to someone next to you and to have that encouragement that they are right there with you, to know that they know what you are going through, they have experience the same or similar spiritual struggles, they know the spiritual hurts and pains that come, isn’t that wonderful blessing? To be able to look around and see that you are not alone is inspiring. As we run this Christian race, what a blessing it is to be able to encourage one another and to be encouraged.
Maybe your running partner is your spouse, your parents or your kids. Maybe there is that special someone or someones in your church that you have enjoyed running with in your Christian life. No matter with whom you run, as Proverbs 27:17 says you are sharpening each other along the way.
In addition to the other runners encouraging you, they can also be someone to help hold you accountable and can help you to avoid detours and pitfalls. As I ran my race I was able to look ahead and follow other runners. I couldn’t see the finish line until 50 yards away from it but I knew that if I followed those ahead of me I would get there.
How about you? Do you, do I look at others running with us and see them as an encouragement or a distraction? You may say, but Donn, they are not running the way I am,” or you may say “Donn, they aren’t wearing the exact same style and brand of shoes that I think they need.” Yes, some may have a little different stride, some may even be wearing Nikes instead of New Balance shoes and some may even be carrying some unnecessary weight but are you encouraging them or blocking them from doing their best? Maybe they are hardheaded and don’t want you help or suggestion or maybe they are just too comfortable with their extra weight and all you can do is kindly point them to the runner’s guide. But are you helping or hindering? Regardless of how others are running beside you, you are responsible to God for how YOU run your race. If they are in the Christian race, are you encouraging them and allowing them to encourage you or are you allowing the other runner differences to be a distraction and a discouragement to you?