Inspiration, Encouragement & Instructions
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Some encouragement for educators, parents and students to motivate you to "run well" all the way through finish line, that is the end of the school year.
The Bible is chock-full of analogies comparing living for Christ with endurance racing. Both Paul and Jesus knew that we needed some concrete images to help us understand how to live out our faith in the everyday. And they also knew that it wouldn’t compare well to a stroll in the park.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes the following to the believers he has chosen to spend his life instructing, encouraging and admonishing: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize (9:24-27).
First, Paul states the obvious, in a race there is only one winner. The person who crosses the line first. It doesn’t matter if that person was behind for the majority of the race, if she cruises in front in the end, she will be given the medal.
We all love a good “come from behind” win, don’t we?
Why is it so exciting to watch someone give it her all to surpass her opponent and win in the end?
I believe it is because that is “running in such a way to get the prize.” The athlete who was leading the entire race is to be admired for her efforts, no doubt, she too was running to win the race. But there is something that we can all relate to in being inspired by that runner who kept running to win, even if it didn’t look like she was going to be the winner until the very last step.
Secondly, note Paul doesn’t write "run get the prize." Instead, he writes, run in such a way as to get the prize. The prize isn't the goal. Rather, how you run on the way to get to the finish line is what produces the reward.
As we near the end of the school year, it is important that all of us: staff, students and parents, keep this in mind. We have faced a very, very challenging year, not just as members of the whatever community we call home but also citizens of this country and members of the generation living on this Earth at this time in history. With courage and determination, we have faced adversity and pressed on and found just enough strength for each day to keep moving forward.
Exhaustion is setting in and the desire to just float through the next few weeks or jump on the “senior slide” (as it is sometimes called) are both tempting. For those who have ever run a marathon, you know what mile 22 is like. This is the portion of the race in which many runners experience “hitting the wall.”
The last few weeks of school is, for many of us, our mile 22.
Every runner makes some crucial decisions at this point in the race, all of them are underpinned by a question: Will I trust my training has prepared me with the strength to run as a competitor or will I give-in to the fatigue and step down to the level of participant? More concretely, will I keep running or will I start walking?
And how, you may be asking, is this related to learning and faith?
What we live out in the physical we learn to adopt to our spiritual lives as well. When we push our minds and bodies hard in training for physical competitions or academic assessments, we grow closer to understanding what it means to do the same in spiritual matters. This is why how we live shapes our faith and draws us closer to understanding how living out our faith is much more like running a marathon than going for a walk in the park. When we practice disciplines that help us live and learn well in the physical we grow in our capacity to love God and others with our heart, soul, mind and strength.
So as we walk through the last few weeks of the school year, let’s put into practice Paul's words to the church of Corinth and the believers in Rome. (2020-2021 probably looks like a walk in the park in comparison to what the first Christians experienced at the hands of hostile religious leaders and governments officials.)
And then, when we get to the actual end, you know summer!!!! Let's celebrate well the many victories of this school year. Because there isn’t much better than the feeling of satisfaction that comes after crossing a finish line knowing one gave it his all every step of the way.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: