A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed that her best friend and constant running companion had fallen behind in this race. It saddened her to think of going ahead without the one who got her racing in the first place, but slowing down was not an option. She had trained to win. Surely, her friend would understand that. It wasn’t her fault that her friend hadn’t trained as hard or wasn’t willing to put forth as much effort.
No, she had to shake these thoughts from her mind and refocus. She was losing ground with her daydreaming. A groan escaped her lips as she desperately tried to wrench more energy from within.
Suddenly, she caught sight of the runner in front of her. The race was too long to see the finish line, but she knew that if she could just catch up to the runner ahead of her she’d be that much closer to it. Yes! The runner ahead would be her immediate goal. As her mind wrapped around this challenge, her body was instantly infused with new strength. Her pace quickened and gradually closed the gap between the two runners.
Exhilaration coursed through her whole being as she found herself running neck-and-neck with this faster runner. Her mind thrilled to the sound of their feet pounding the ground side by side in near unison, kicking up a veil of dirt behind them.
And then she saw the next runner ahead. She was getting closer to the finish line. It was time to move on from here and press harder still. She refocused her energies toward this new goal, summoning new reserves of power to get her there, one step closer to that finish line she so desired to cross a winner.
Pretty intense stuff, right?
I’m not a runner, and that’s exactly why. It’s too intense a sport for my body and my mind. It is a pretty dramatic illustration though of my walk as a Christian so far.
I see the finish line as being my completeness in Jesus - gaining Christ. That end seems so far away to me that it’s easier to measure the race by how far ahead I get, step-by-step and goal-by-goal. God leads me to new and deeper revelation in many ways, but mostly, He teaches me through other believers who have already received it. I learn by walking alongside an individual until the point is reached where I can learn no more, so I need to move on to someone else. I am never satisfied for long with the amount of revelation I have. My spirit is always wanting more.
I’m not talking about Christian-hopping until I find someone who comes into agreement with my way of thinking. I’m talking about Christian-hopping until I find someone who feeds my spirit with deeper truths and renewed faith. I’m talking about walking alongside solid Christians who take the Word of God as the Gospel Truth (pun intended) and strive to live it.
Along the way in my “race.” I’ve had to leave some good friends behind. It’s sad when you’re on the same spiritual page with someone for so long and suddenly you realize that they are rejecting the deeper stuff of Christ that you’re just eating up as if it was life itself. (Oh, wait… it is: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life [Jesus].” 1 John 1:1)
But what could I do? I had a lot of lies in my head telling me I should stick by my friends and be happy with what I already knew. I also had this sense of dread that if I didn’t press on I was going to miss out on something really good. It hurt that I couldn’t translate that same idea to my friends and encourage them to come with me, but I couldn’t stay. It would have been death to stay. A growing baby would die if you continued feeding it only milk. At some point, you have to introduce solid foods and some day steak!
So I have decided to set my sights on believers who have more revelation and more actual experiences with touching Jesus, ones who are seeking so hard to cross that finish line as complete in Christ as they can be that they can almost reach out and take hold of it now. They have a passion and a vision for the things of God. Here’s how Paul put it in Philippians 3:7-11:
“7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Like Paul, I am DESPERATE for the deeper things of Christ. The things around me that once were so valuable to me are no longer important. In fact, they are like rubbish if they are standing in the way of me getting closer to Jesus. I don’t view people as rubbish, but if someone I’m walking with is slowing me down or blocking my path, I need to cut them loose. I can’t stay with them. They are like a ball and chain weighing me down. All that can be done for a person who would rather hold you back than run forward with you is to pray for them, but by all means, move forward! Paul continues in Philippians 3:12-14:
“12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
It's a prize to gain Christ. That's what God is calling us to do and the very reason Jesus took hold of us to begin with. I want that prize!
I am fortunate to be running with a group of believers who are striving for the finish line with the same or greater passion and vision than I am. The more we ask God for deeper things, the more God is faithful to take one of us to a new level so the rest of us can follow. Sometimes God points out a runner outside our circle who is walking closer to Him so we can catch up to that person’s level of revelation.
The closer I get to the finish line, the more evidence I can see in me that I am closer to “gaining” Christ. I don’t look so much at the other runners for encouragement to keep going. I’ve found that I am letting God Himself energize and motivate me along the track. I just need to keep willing my flesh and soul (mind, emotions, and will) to keep moving forward, which actually is easy to do when you feed your spirit with food that is more nutritious than simple milk. The more you feed your spirit, the more your spirit wants to commune with God’s Spirit.
Being that it’s almost 4:00 am that I’m finishing this, I can only pray that it makes sense. Only God knows why I get insight to write at odd times and a compulsion to “do it now” in the wee hours of the morning. I hope it encourages you to seek out a runner ahead of you for your edification. Don’t worry about the friends you have to leave behind. God can take care of them where they are.
Just run your race to win!