Christian living

How Running Changes the Way I View My Faith

I’m back!!! It’s been such a long time! September/October have been a crazy months full of school and cross country. High-school is a big step up, and it’s taken me a bit of time to adjust. I hope I’ll settle into a schedule soon. 😊 Since XC will be done for me in a week, I thought I would talk about something I’ve been learning for the last 2 years: the importance of mindset in running. But then, when I looked at the way the author of Hebrews compares running to the Christian walk, I discovered things about the Christian life I never truly understood before.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

When I hit a wall of exhaustion entering mile two of a 5k, a battle starts in my mind.  I have to decide if a new personal record is worth the pain.  I have to decided if it really matters to not let someone pass me.  I have to decide if I will push harder.  If I decide it’s not worth it, I can feel myself slowing down, giving up.  If I let self-pity dominate me for a split-second, my performance suffers.  

Running is a lot like the Christian faith.

“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, 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” (Bible Gateway, Hebrews 12:1-3, bold added).

There are four applications in this passage that stand out to me:

1. Remember You’re Not Alone

“…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”

Running alone is hard, so many people find someone to run with in their races.  When I pace off of someone else, I don’t have time to think about my own pain because the other person is suffering with me.  I can’t afford self-pity because someone else is helping me.  The other person pulls me to try harder in my weaker points, and I can pull them along when they are struggling.

This perfectly illustrates our relationship with other believers.  The Christian life is not meant to be done alone.  We don’t have the strength to “run the race” well on our own.  Other Christians can help us in our weak spots, and we can encourage others when they are struggling.  In addition, pain and suffering aren’t so oppressive when we can share those burdens with others. 

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Bible Gateway, Galatians 6:2).

2. Take Away the Tripping Hazards

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…”

I love to cheer for my teammates.  On one occasion, I was cheering with my friends during the boys’ race.  Around the quarter-mile mark, one of the boys’ shoe fell off.  He stood there trying to put it back on, but he finally realized he was getting behind.  He picked up the shoe and started up again, trying to make up for lost time.

Though the illustration is not perfect, sin slows us down just like my teammate’s shoe did in the race.  When we hold onto sin, it will slow our progress.  When I find my faith is wavering, it is often because I won’t let go of a specific sin.  The passage from Hebrews tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”  When we stubbornly hold back our sin, it’s like leaving a shoelace untied.  We are setting a trap for ourselves.  

Surrender your sin to God and ask him to change your heart.  Throwing off your sin now will save you from stumbling in the future.

Suggested: Stop Trying

3. Look to the Finish Line

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”

My older brother once had to do an intense sprint workout while carrying a huge backpack.  The worst part: he didn’t know how many sprints he had to do.  

Christ calls us to some exhausting work here on earth, but unlike my brother’s instructor, he gives us a finish line to look forward to.  When you find yourself exhausted, don’t scold yourself for your weakness.  Instead, look to Jesus.  Remember that one day he “…will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain…”(Bible Gateway, Revelation 21:4)

Suggested: Run to Jesus

4. Hold onto Purpose

“…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.”

I’ve learned that if I want to have endurance in a race or workout, I have to remember why I’m running in the first place.  I have to have a reason to keep running.

In the same way, I have to have a reason to keep walking with God.  

I find it interesting that the author of Hebrews starts out the passage above talking about Christians but ends the passage talking about Christ.  Knowing Jesus is the ultimate goal in our Christian walk.  We won’t grow weary or lose heart if his victory dominates our thoughts, and we strive to glorify him. He is the ultimate goal!

Suggested: What Does Glorifying God Really Mean?

Let’s Talk!

Have you ever thought of your relationship with God this way? If not, how does this change your day-to-day life on a practical level?

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Related: Died Before We Came – A Christian’s Call to Total Surrender

Featured: Should Christians Listen to Secular Music?

9 thoughts on “How Running Changes the Way I View My Faith”

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