The Courage to Commit

Running Your Race Well

God uses running and racing analogies often in Scripture to give us significant insight into how we ought to approach life. Considering one’s life as a race that God has marked out in advance, highlights many useful life principles. If you want to run your race well and finish strong, you have to start with the courage to commit.

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1

I’m going to use some of these running metaphors to share how you can cultivate the courage to commit in order to experience a victorious life. But before I do, I need to tell you a little story about the fly and the wasp.

The Fly and the Wasp

Whenever a fly gets in my kitchen, I grab a fly swatter and start swinging, recklessly trying to squash the invader before it has an opportunity to land. The whole concept of a bug that vomits on food to dissolve it and slurp it up is disgusting. Not to mention, his tiny little feet could have been standing on a pile of steaming dog poop just before he flew in my kitchen. I have about a 50% kill rate when it comes to dispatching the little buggers.

However, when a wasp gets in my kitchen, it’s a completely different fight. I calmly grab the fly swatter and walk over to the intruder. Standing directly behind it, I take a moment to decide my intention. If I swing and miss at a fly, I just try again, but missing a wasp is a higher stakes proposition. I know that if I miss the wasp, it will get angry and probably launch a counter-strike.

So I have to decide before I move that I will kill it on the first whack. I have a 100% kill rate for wasps.

The fly versus the wasp; how to decide the outcome before you act in order to achieve victory
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To Kill or Not to Kill

The difference in my success with wasps versus flies is largely a result of my approach. With wasps, I commit to the desired outcome before I even begin. Missing is not an option. It would be better not to attack at all than to strike and miss the target. My attitude toward the situation before I act makes a huge difference in whether or not I achieve my desired outcome.

Now, to be fair, wasps are usually a larger target and I suspect they have a slower reaction time than flies. Flies have a 20-millisecond reaction speed that seems to border on premonition. Humans, by comparison, have about a .25-second response time for visual stimuli. (I couldn’t find data for wasps. Everything I searched turned up information on how long it takes for humans to react to a sting from a wasp. If someone out there has this data, please let me know!)

Though this may seem a silly example to some, it is a personal metaphor to me about the importance of committing to the outcome before starting the adventure. After all, if you are halfhearted about your destination, you are very unlikely to wind up where you want to be.

You’re Killing It!

To translate this metaphor to real life in a meaningful and productive way, you need to think of the wasp as the race set before you or a goal you have. Striking the wasp effectively, means you nailed your goal, you fought the good fight, you finished your race (or that segment of it) well.

When someone is “killing it!” they are not focused on destruction. They are achieving the hard thing they intentionally set out to do – the task they committed to, the race God gave them to run. In short, they are walking in the victory they wanted more than whatever it cost them to get there.

Determined – Run to Win

Don't you know that many enter the race, but only the winner gets the prize? Run to win!
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Once you decide to win at life, you have to run your race like you mean to win.

Run like a champion because that’s who God says you are.  Believe everything God says about you. Know your true identity and embrace your real value. God sacrificed tremendously so you could run a race with a victory at the end. Don’t waste it.

Look at all the hard work and determination Olympic champions put into their sport.  They do all that to get a medal that will not last. The work we do with Jesus has Eternal rewards. (1 Peter 1:4, 1 Cor 9:25) Live like you believe that’s true.

Run with those who are going the direction you want to go and will help you set a good pace.  If you can’t find a person headed the direction God is calling you then know that God is always near and he will never abandon you, no matter how hard your race gets.

Run your race like a champion because that’s who God says you are. #beloved #undefeated #victorious Click To Tweet

Deliberate – Be Intentional

Another aspect of having the courage to commit is making deliberate choices about which race you run and how you choose to run it. No one can commit to run every race. Before I decide which literal races I plan to run, I take into account factors such as the distance, time of year, location, date, and cost. I plan out in advance when I will run which races and in what sequence, making sure they are spaced apart in ways that make sense.

Likewise, with life’s great race, we must deliberate choose what we commit to. Count the costs before you sign up for a race God never intended for you to run. Then train and run to win.

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
1 Corinthians 9:26, NIV

The courage to commit
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Run with Purpose

This means we need to have goals and plan how to reach them. To start off without some form of a plan is to run aimlessly from one activity to another. Instead, we need a deliberate direction.

When we run with purpose, we know where the finish line we are aiming for is before we start the race, Granted, God doesn’t always tell us what lies ahead and for good reason, but he gives us more than information to head in the right direction. Always know what target you’re aiming at before you release the arrow of your time, effort, and resources.

Are you Serious or Shadowboxing?

Another version of 1 Cor 9:26 (NLT) puts it this way, “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.” I love the concept of having a purpose in every step we take. That’s living intentionally. The opposite of running with purpose is allowing yourself to be carried along by the current of our culture and life circumstances, which is not a victorious or resilient way to live.

Shadowboxing refers to sparring with an imaginary opponent for the purpose of training without actually fighting anyone. Informally, the word refers to people who appear to be taking action against each other, but are actually not really committed to doing anything productive about solving the problem.

If you aren’t being intentional and deliberate in how you approach life, then you’re just shadowboxing. You may claim certain values are important to you, but if you aren’t actually doing anything that elevates those values and moves the ball down the field, then you are just lying to yourself.

If you want to win at life, you have to be deliberate about what you choose to do and what you decide you don’t have time or energy for. You have to think through what actions and activities will propel you forward and which ones will trip you up. Be intentional about which life races you sign up for.

Always know what target you’re aiming at before you release the arrow of your time, effort, and resources. #commitment #intentionalliving Click To Tweet

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
Galatians 5:7

Dedicated – Stay focused

Determination _Courage to Commit
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Of course, being determined to win and deliberate to follow through are not enough to win. You must also be dedicated to see it through to the end. Here are a few race-day metaphors to help you visualize your life as a race.

  • Measured racecourse: When runners go to a race, they don’t just run willy-nilly wherever they want. Officials have already marked out a course and runners must follow it or be disqualified. Stay in your lane! (Heb 12:1)
  • Stay on target: When you’re running a race, you can’t afford to get distracted by unimportant things. Course correct as needed but stay focused on your ultimate goal. (Gal 5:7)
  • Time limit: This is a race, not a stroll. You don’t have time to dawdle or take an extra-long rest in the porta-potty. Take care of your needs, but don’t use them as an excuse to stop running altogether. Our days are short. We have to make the most of every opportunity God gives us. (Eph 5:16) Don’t squander what God has given you. (Mt 25:25)
  • Preparation: I don’t recommend going from couch to 5K in one day. That is setting yourself up for disappointment, failure, and injury. Life, like any race, requires training and discipline. You can’t just go out there and wing it. Prepare as best you can for what God is calling you to do. (Heb 12:11)
  • Perseverance: Make sure you’re on the right track and then stick with it. You’re not done when you’re tired; you’re done when you’re finished. (Heb 12:1-3) Don’t quit too soon.
  • Medals at the end: When you sign up for a race, you get a T-shirt at the start, but you don’t get the medal until you finish. No finish = no medal. If you cheat, take too long, leave the course, get injured, fail to train hard enough, or give up, all you get is a “DNF” (did not finish) beside your name. In the race of life, we’re not running for a medal that we bought with our registration fee. We’re running for the glory of God and for a prize that will never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:4, 1 Cor 9:25).
run with perseverance the race marked out by God for you
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How do we run our race well?

I love how The Message put it:

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing. ~ Philippians 2:14-16, MSG

How you run is more important than how fast you run. Do all things well as though you’re doing it for Jesus himself. (Colossians 3:23) Be a breath of the fresh air of God’s grace wherever you go!

Are you in it to win it?

So commit to run your race well. Be determined, deliberate, and dedicated. Strike the wasp with courage, deciding in advance that the obstacles you face will not get the better of you. Fight the good fight, finish your race, keep the faith. Start intentionally. Follow through persistently. Finish strong. You got this! With God on your side, who can stand against you? (Romans 8:31)

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7
Start intentionally. Follow through persistently. Finish strong. #runtherace #goodfight Click To Tweet

 What race has God marked out for you to run? If you don’t know, spend some time asking him.
Are you in it to win it?

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