When I was in high school, I went out for the track. I was a pretty good runner in the short-distance events. But I got killed on long-distance runs. I would take off at the beginning of the race and leave everyone in my dust. I would be ahead of the crowd and feeling good. But then I would start getting a little fatigued. And pretty soon people started passing me.
I think the apostle Paul must have been something of a sports fan, because he used athletic analogies quite often, especially the analogy of running a race. Writing to the church in Corinth he said, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25 NLT).
And in Philippians 3:14 Paul wrote, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (NLT). Paul was saying in effect, “I’m like a runner in the last stretch, and it hurts. But I’m going to make it. I’m determined.”
A lot of Christians start out their spiritual race with a bang, much like the way I started my races in high school. They are so excited about the Lord. They take off running and leave everyone else in their dust. Then they collapse and fall.
The Christian life is a race, but it isn’t a sprint. It’s a long-distance run. There will be times when we collapse and fall. And all we can do is get up again and keep running until we cross the finish line.