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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, July 09 2020

The Christian marathon

Have you ever run in a marathon race and determined to keep on going even though you had hit that wall and wanted so badly to quit? In Hebrews 12 Paul uses the example of a physical race as a metaphor for the life of a Christian striving towards eternal life.

by Darris McNeely

Have you ever ran a marathon race? A 26.2-mile race, that takes a long time to finish and a lot of strength and endurance? I never have, never will, never have actually wanted to. My son and his wife, they run marathon races and I know a lot of people that do. And I’ve always admired people who can train and run that long a period of time and that length and finish. It’s an amazing thing. You get…hit a point somewhere along that race where they call it kind of the wall. You hit a wall and you want to quit, then you have to push on through that.

I heard I guess an amusing story of somebody who tried to entice people to quit a marathon race. He positioned himself at the 21-mile marker. And he held up a sign that just said, “Just quit. Just quit.” And I think maybe he had donuts and drinks there to try to entice people to give up with four or five miles left to run in the race. Kind of cruel when you think about it. But you know, the race of a marathon is used in the Bible as a metaphor for our spiritual life and our race to the kingdom of God. There are obstacles that come up that challenge us, that make us want to quit. And you know, we see somebody or a situation we think in our mind, “Just quit. Give it up.” We shouldn’t do that.

In Hebrews 12:1, there’s one of these scriptures that uses the race as this metaphor. Paul writes, “Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” And we have to have the endurance to finish. He points us to Christ in verse 2, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It’s an amazing verse that points us to looking to God for the help to finish the race that we have in our life. And to not quit no matter what difficulty, what trial, what challenge, what temptation may be there to cause us to give up our hands and just quit. We don’t want to do that.

You know, years ago I learned this lesson in another scripture and I used it to teach some of the students that I have in Ambassador Bible College. And one of my students sent this to me, gave this to me. It was a wood-burning of the actual example that I use. It comes out of Jeremiah 12:5 where Jeremiah wanted to quit. And God says, “No, basically, you need to run with the horses.” And so the student burned some horses in the reference to Jeremiah 12:5 into this and gave it to me. And I have it in my office and I look at it and when I have a tendency or maybe a temptation to just quit, I remember, “No, don’t. You got to run with the horses.” And that’s a good lesson for us.

I may never run a physical race called a marathon but like you, like all of us, I am in a marathon toward eternal life, the race of life. And we cannot quit. We need to always run with the horses.