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Challenged to Run Well

Time is short - what are you doing with yours? This may not seem like a very significant question when you are twenty and going strong, but the recent passing of a young man just barely in his forties made me realize we cannot take life for granted. Chances are he arose every morning living life to the fullest, but none of us knows when our last breath will come. We all run this race - with urgency and equally with responsibility to run it well. When time is short and a solution is imperative, how do we run? Likely we run with a determination - because we know we have limited time and we want to be sure whatever needs to be done is accomplished. A race is more than a contest in speed - it can also be one of endurance and perseverance. How well we run is often determined by our "interpretation" of the need to run - the thing that is right in front of us that we are running toward, or the thing behind us that is making us run! If we have a wild animal charging at us, intent on making us his supper, we might just run like our life depended on it, right? If we are told by the doctor to get a little more exercise, such as running a mile a day, we might just have a different "interpretation" of the need - one is for the saving of a life, but do we interpret the other as doing the same? The crux of the defining moment is in what we see as the "intensity" of need that is right there in front of us.

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)

To run well, there is an appreciation on our part of some need, responsibility, or effort that is required of us. Until we "appreciate" it we don't even take the first step. There is something powerful that happens when we come into a full awareness of our need, responsibility, and the effort it will take - to be fully conscious of the first step, one must appreciate the need for that first step. The runner has to see the value in the race! To run aimlessly is silly. To run with purpose makes much more sense - since there is either a prize or a destination in mind! What is your urgent need? What makes you run? Being chased by a a wild animal is a "logical" reason for running as though your life depended on it. I think life is filled with all kinds of "logical" reasons for "running" like our life depended on it. Yet, life is also filled with some "illogical" reasons for "running"! Have you ever watched a scary movie on TV or in the theater and found your heart racing, the tiny hairs on the back of your neck standing on end, and being just about ready to jump out of your seat if someone were to come up behind you and tap you on the shoulder? How "illogical" is it to be afraid of what is "made up" on the TV screen? Most would say the movie was made to elicit some sense of "terror" or "fear" within you. If it did, the movie maker accomplished what they set out to do. 

How illogical is it for us to fear what is "made up"? Most of us would say it is plain silly to be so frightened by that which cannot hurt us! Yet, we walk around everyday with "illogical" thoughts plaguing us with all kinds of "made up" fears! Things like, "You are not good enough", or maybe even "You'll never amount to anything". We have other "illogical" fears which hold us in their grasp - like relationships all end in disaster, so why try? We believe the silliest stuff - just because someone, somewhere, at some time told us it was this way! God wants us to focus only on him in the race, so we have what we need in order to turn the "illogical" into the "logical". We get so wrapped up in "running" after the illogical, we often miss the logical. The logical is the valid - the illogical is the invalid. I wonder what we might accomplish for God if we started running after the logical, avoiding the illogical at every turn? The responsibility to run and run well is part of the race. We all run, but if it is without intent, we miss out on much in the race. I think God might just be focusing us on being "answerable" for how well we run. I don't know about you, but if I give something my half-effort, just barely skimming the surface of what I am capable of giving, I find the "end" a little unfulfilling. Yeah, I made it to the end, but did I give it my best along the way? We have a responsibility to run well - anything less shows we are really not concerned with the answer we will give at the end. I don't know about you, but when I am "answerable" for my actions, I want to be able to "answer well"!

We often equate effort to the idea of exertion. We "put out" and then we realize some "return" for what it is we "put into" the project at hand. All God ever asks of us is for us to make every "earnest" effort we can to live according to the plan he has for us. In other words, we begin to appreciate "obedience" as deserving of our "serious attention". For some, this may seem like a bit much, but if we take the effort to make the first step, we find the "effort" becomes less and less as time goes on. It is important to realize the time is short. We never really know how short our time may be. If we take for granted the day we are given, we may find ourselves woefully lacking when the next doesn't come! If we begin to "process" today well, we won't find ourselves disappointed by the things we "put off" doing in our yesterdays! Just sayin!

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