Scripture often refers to our faith as a race.
We deliberately discipline ourselves - sacrificing time and effort to know God better, running “with purpose in every step.” We are as serious as an athlete in training.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27: Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
Sometimes, God allows the race to get harder so we can build our faith. This happened with Jeremiah. He was complaining to God about the opposition he faced, and God answered him this way:
Jeremiah 12:5: "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”
As we put our hope in the Lord, our strength is renewed so we can "run and not grow weary."
Isaiah 40:31: Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
We gain understanding because we run on God's race track, "in the path of His commands."
Psalm 119:32: I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.
Others have run this same race and they’re cheering us on, telling us we can do it, urging us to get rid of things in our lives that slow us down so we can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus."
Hebrews 12:1-3: 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Sometimes we will also have to endure opposition and make sure that nothing cuts in front of us and stops us from running with perseverance:
Galatians 5:7: You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
Note that the race depends on obedience to God's truth. That why it's important to run as these Scriptures encourage us to run. Then, when our earthly race comes to an end, we can run into eternity with these words on our lips:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com