“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly…” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26)

In 2010, I trained to run the “America’s Finest” half marathon in San Diego. I had been bike riding and working out a lot, but hadn’t really run much since I spiral fractured my tibia and dislocated my ankle in the late 90s. They said they did not recommend that I run anymore because there might not be enough cartilage left. Well, one day I thought I’m just going to try running and see how it goes, and away I went. It felt so good to be running again, and I soon committed to training for the half. I had run 6K’s back in the day, and trained once for a marathon, but never ran one. (What was I thinking?) I ran a lot of miles each week (alone), ate only organic food, worked out, and read running books. Never was I so committed to doing everything possible to be able to finish that race. Not win the prize, just finish. (Hopefully not last.)

I thought of that experience as I read this Scripture in 1 Corinthians 9. What is the imperishable prize referred to here? We all know it is salvation, eternal life in heaven, and abundant life with Jesus each day. I love the illustrations Paul uses to help us understand scriptural truth as he did here.

So, is the Christian life a race or grace? It does require commitment; it should result in self-control, and it helps to have the knowledge that comes from reading and studying Scripture. However, it is only by God’s grace that we come to the place of understanding the sacrifice he made for us on the cross. It is only by God’s grace and the prompting of the Holy Spirit that our sins are revealed and with His help repented of. It is only by God’s grace that we can stay in the race of life at all.

My life verse is Hebrews 12:1-3 in the NIV and says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

I did finish the half marathon (I was not last), but it was the journey that led to the finish, the training, and the self-discipline that I remember most. God’s grace is sufficient, and His glory is revealed in us if we commit to running the race His way (not aimlessly), always rejoicing in His unending love and great mercy.

Deb Hill
Executive Administrative Assistant

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