When I was in 8th grade, I ran cross country in the fall to “stay in shape” for the soccer season in the spring. I mostly hated it, but that’s not really the point. I remember during one race, I was pacing slightly ahead of one of my teammates. Another girl from another school and I kept passing each other, fighting for a spot ahead of the other. We reached the last leg of the race, and my teammate, who was only a few paces behind me, started to yell and cheer me on. I can still hear her voice. “C’mon Janelle! You can beat her! You can do it! C’mon! Let’s go!”
I had never run harder in my life. I felt like I was flying, feet thumping in the grass, tunnel vision to the finish line. And I beat that other girl.
I love thinking of that memory. It invigorates me even now, 10+ years later.
I’m not gonna get all, “Run the race hard, perseverance, Jesus is the prize, marathon mentality” stuff on you. (Although, if you do think of it, that doesn’t hurt either.)
But it got me thinking. About myself, about my posture towards the women in my life, and my attitude, too. We’re all running somewhere, you know? We all have to move in some direction. Some of us aren’t even interested in Jesus. Some of us are. Some of us are trying to be the best at this race, fighting for spots, hoping we can outrun all the other women around us. Some of us are yelling loudly for some to surpass others. Some of us are keeping to ourselves, hoping we just blend into the pack, crossing the finish line without losing our breath or tripping over a stick along the way. Some of us are cheering each other on. Some of us think we’re all on separate teams. Some of us don’t even know why we’re running in the first place.
If Jesus is the prize, if He is the reason you run and to Whom you run, what kind of runner are you? What kind of runner should you be?
There are far too many controversies, issues, and debates to even begin addressing them one by one, but I feel I must say this: if you’re running for the King, what kind of posture are you holding towards the people around you? Are you holding a sign? Are you boycotting the running shoes you loved because they support something you don’t? Are you ignoring everyone around you because it has becoming too terrifying to look at people in the faces, for fear that they are something you are not?
If I’m running for Jesus, if His name is the one I proclaim, I don’t want to hold a sign. I don’t want to be yelling at other people to pass other people, just for the sake of getting ahead. I don’t want to be that runner who decides someone else’s choices affect my belief in Jesus. I don’t want to be that woman who finds fear in the faces of people, in the faces of sin, in the faces of demons. I’m not scared of sin. I’m not scared of people. I’m not scared of demons. You know why? When Jesus died, He went down to Hades and looked at the faces of the fallen angels and said, “SEE! I have won. I am the King. I have overtaken you. I hold the keys. I am all-powerful. I reign supreme.” When Jesus died, He took all the sins. All of them. Even the ones that haven’t been admitted. Or the ones you think are worse than others. Every. Single. One. His blood is not just for show. Don’t think your sins are the only ones He forgives.
We’re not just running to win. We’re not running to show off our talents, our shoes, our running gear, our life. We run because God calls us. He called us up. He gave us life, He gave us talents and useful gifts for a reason, my friends, and if you’re using them to hate other people, then you’re wasting what God has blessed you with. He doesn’t bless us with good things so we can condemn others. He blesses us so we can love the heck out of people we don’t know, the ones we do, and the ones we hope to usher to the King (and, frankly, that should be all of them).
And we run, not just by ourselves, but alongside everyone else. You can’t hide here. This world is a frightening place, but you surely cannot think that you can be hidden behind your holiness. He guards you, Jesus protects you, but He also says you will be hated. And you will. But love the crap out of them anyways. Love them til you die. And don’t stop.
So I’m looking at you. I’m running behind you, and I’m shouting these words: “You can do this! You can! You can run hard, thorough, and fast for the King. Keep going! C’mon! I’m right here with you!” Run for Jesus. Yup, I said it. Don’t trample those in your path. Talk to them. Love them hard. Love yourself too. Believe in the Word solidly. Take it to the world. We aren’t going toe-to-toe here with our fellow runners. If you are, check your motives. There’s no need to act as though the world cannot be saved. We already know it’s full of sin. And we already know Jesus came and died for every one of us. You aren’t the savior. He is.