The Race Is Not For The Swift

I don’t know about your physical education class when
you were a kid, but my class always participated in
the annual presidential physical fitness test. Is anyone
out there groaning yet? As part of that test to assess
kids’ fitness levels, things like pushups, sit ups and pull
ups were measured. But the thing which caused me
the most dread- and the least success- was the 600
yard run. Now, is anyone out there groaning? For this
overweight, uncoordinated kid, the run was not a test
of my fitness, but rather, a means of humiliation and
failure.

If you’re not familiar with the 600 yard run, let me
break it down. In short, it required some hyped up kids
running around the football field twice to measure
their personal stamina and speed. Doesn’t sound too
bad, right? Perhaps, if you’re a long distance runner,
you wouldn’t sweat the field one bit. But, for me, year
after year, I feared it, anticipating the worst possible
outcome: face plants, side aches and of course, coming
in last.

And, sure enough, each time I ran this race, clumsy me
would surface as I endeavored to complete the run. I’d
start out, trying to run fast, with my blue Nikes pounding
the grass. Sometimes, at the start of the race, I’d
even think, “this isn’t so bad.”

But reality would show up soon enough. Eventually,
one by one, the other kids would pass me. “Everyone
else” seemed to finish as a herd, in a timely fashion,
while I was the one stray loser, stumbling to the finish
line all by myself. And, as I crossed that finish line (if
that’s what you want to call it), the other kids laughed
at me. Fun experience with physical education- yay!
It was further confirmation I was subpar; I wasn’t good
enough. The prospect of a race was moral deflating for
me. And it started to impact my life, far into my adulthood.
Yes, that football field was huge when I was a child. It
felt like it was never ending. And it still seems immense
as an adult. But what I see, years later, is that the race
never goes away. It just transforms into the race of life.
That’s where the problem set in. As life began, I set myself
up for failure right away. How? I required perfection
of myself. Whether it was by procrastination, eating disorder
behaviors or unrealistic expectations from ever
changing achievements, the core focus was perfection.
It’s one I’m still working on to this day.

Indeed, part of my definition of perfection involved
“getting it” quickly. My entire life, I never feeling I
caught on to something “everyone else” just automatically
picked up with no problem. How’s that for a nice,
tidy little lie? Ah, yes. It tells us we’re different than
“everyone else.” Comparing ourselves against others is
dangerous, isn’t it? We often lose sight of ourselves.
Let’s go back to the race again. Runners are often
instructed not to look at their fellow competitors when
they’re in the middle of a race. Why? Is it some savvy
psyche out strategy? No. Simply put, it’s to keep from
getting distracted, so he/she won’t face plant into the
ground because the runner isn’t paying attention to
where he/she is going. Lesson: run your own race.

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth
so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race
that is set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1

Easier said than done? Yes. But is it achievable? Yes,
it is. It’s not because we’re perfect. It’s not even because
we’re fast. Some of us pick up things at a slower
pace. But it’s about continuing the race, at whatever
speed you and I find ourselves running-or walking-or
crawling. It’s about the concept from two words, “keep
going.”

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not
to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet
bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance
happeneth to them all.”
Ecclesiastes 9:11

There are times in our lives when it appears no movement
is happening. No one is immune from frustration
and setbacks. There is no “everyone else.” Each of us is
subject to “time and chance,” like Ecclesiastes tells us.
I’m often reminded of the Reverend Charles Spurgeon
quote, “By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.”
Do you feel like a snail, like you’re losing your own race?

Where are you looking?

“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be
established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left:
remove thy foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:26- 27

Are you running it, knowing God is running it with you?
It’s not a corny concept; it’s a real Truth. For every race
you’ve participated in, football field or no football field,
God is running with you.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout
the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of
them whose heart is perfect toward him…”
2 Chronicles 16:9

That includes the race of recovery. In fact, recovery is
a marathon, an ongoing process. And, in that process,
2 Chronicles’ use of the word “perfect” doesn’t mean
“perfect” at all; it means focused on God.

That’s the real challenge of our individual races, isn’t it?
We’re called to live our lives for God, not to live them
perfectly. You are not alone in that challenge and in
that race, known as your life and recovery process. And
you’re not defeated. God is for you, not against you
(Romans 8:31). You are meant to be a winner and to
overcome.

So, keep going, take that next step, embrace your race!
You ARE getting there!

“…let us run with patience the race that is set before
us.”
Hebrews 12:1