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Running your race!

Many of you may not know this about me, but I enjoy going off-road in my truck. I enjoy finding a dirt path and taking my family out for some adventures. However, there have been times when we were not the only ones out on the beaten path. There were times where there was other people with nicer trucks than mine. It is easy to go out and become envious of someone with a newer truck, one that is lifted with mud-terrain tires and has all the bells and whistles on it. To be honest, sometimes I can sit back and daydream about having such a truck and racing it all over the off-road tracks. I have even come to dream about having a large monster truck to run over obstacles just for the fun of it.

These daydreams are fine to have, however, that is what it is, just a daydream. Having a lifted truck with mud terrain tires may be fun for a short while, however, that type of truck set up is for a very specific purpose. It takes someone with the finances to pay for such upgrades, and the skills to maneuver such a large truck so that they do not find themselves in a predicament while driving the truck off-road. Yes, it may look nice, however, no matter how good something looks, its practicality is something totally different.

Not everyone can have a monster truck. Can you imagine a large monster truck passing you by the highway or trying to get some fast food? Can you imagine that a large monster truck going on long comfortable trips? If you have never ridden in a truck with mud-terrain tires, I can tell you this, it is not very comfortable for long. It looks cool, but it is not practical for the average person. Now on the other hand, could you imagine me taking my normal truck to a monster truck rally? Me trying to get my Ford F250 to run over obstacles and jumping large ramps? I would at least flip my truck a dozen times, if not die trying to pull off a stunt. You may be laughing but many people attempt to do just that daily in their lives.

My point is that every vehicle is made for a specific task and a specific purpose. There are plenty of things that my truck can do that a monster truck cannot and vise versa. This does not mean that one is better than the other, they are just different. Both vehicles have advantages and disadvantages that make them uniquely beautiful. This is the very purpose of my message for this week. You cannot thoroughly enjoy your life while you are too busy wishing you live another. You cannot fulfill the purpose God has specifically for you and your life when you are wishing you had another. So in this message, I will explain to you what it means to run your race and find value in it. Then, I will explain how to find true joy in your life and calling. Lastly, I will explain some practical ways to ensure that you stay on track. Now if you are ready, let s begin!

When it comes to speaking about running your race, I believe the apostle Paul said it best in the book of Hebrews. For it is written, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, 2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. 3 Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart,” (Hebrews 12:1-3, AMP).

The first thing I would like to talk about is the fact that we are all designed and equipped to run our own race for God. He made each and every one of us unique. There is not one person in the entire world, both past, and present, that will ever be just like you. You may have things in common with others, however, you are uniquely made. Now in understanding that you are uniquely made, you can understand and grasp the depth of what the Holy Spirit was telling us through Paul. Once you have come to Christ, you are no longer weighed down by your past sins. You are a new creation in Christ.

We must be careful to not allow our past sins or present temptations to slow us down in the race Christ wants us to finish. The only way to do this is to keep our eyes on Christ and not to the person running to your left or your right. Each person has their race to run, and the only way that you can find the strength and endurance to finish your race is to focus on Jesus and nothing else. Everything else is a distraction that you do not need in your journey to spiritual maturity.

Notice how Paul identified that each one of us has a goal or purpose to fulfill in our race. Once you have identified the goal that the Lord has for you, regardless of how big or small that goal may be to you, that is the direction you should be traveling in. It does not matter if your neighbor has a bigger calling, if they are more influential than you, or even if they ever make a larger impact in the world than you can ever do. Run your race! To God, the person who cleans up the church is just as important as the pastor preaching in it. Do not worry about what others are doing, focus on doing what God has called you to do, and do that to the best of your ability. This is why it is written, “Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,” in Colossians 3:23.

The monster truck may look nice and it is fun to drive, however, it still has limitations. When you try to operate a vehicle that you are not equipped for, you are only looking for trouble. You cannot carry out your mission if you are worried about everyone else’s vehicles (spiritual giftings). Be content with your giftings and operate them in a manner that glorifies God and the sacrifice of His Son. It is only when we can do this as Christians that we are on the right track to maturity and that we can find joy in doing whatever God has created us to do. You see, what you do does not matter, what matters is if your faith drives you to be obedient to God and find joy in the purpose He has given you.

Often, Christians lose focus on what God is trying to tell them because they are focused on someone else’s race instead of their own. You cannot find joy and happiness in this, nor can you if you are trying to operate outside of your spiritual gifting. Simply stated, stay in your lane if you want to grow and develop the endurance you need to keep running when things get difficult. This is the only way to protect your heart and mind from satans attacks and a coveting eye. When you can live this way you can find value in what you do and what you already have.

I had a friend that was a minister. He was anointed as a musician but wanted to be a preacher. After some time, he went to seminary and earned his Masters in Divinity. He forced himself to find a position where he would preach and then he got it. However, after all the hard work and dedication, he did not have any joy in preaching. As a matter of fact, he found the time it took to conduct research and prepare a sermon very tedious and he ended up not liking it. However, one morning he walked on the stage and picked up a guitar and started to sing. Then it hit him. He was never meant to be a preacher, he was meant to lead praise and worship. He was anointed and equipped to help people get in the Spirit before worship services. Like my friend in this story, sometimes we lose joy in life because we are not living it in a manner that we were created for.

No different than my story comparing a monster truck with my regular truck, when you find out the vehicle that God wants you to operate in then you can find true joy in your life. It is like having a heavyweight lifted from your shoulders. So do not worry about what everyone else is doing, their calling or gifts, focus on refining your gift, and glorifying Christ by using them correctly. If you are a truck, be the best truck you can be. If you are a bicycle, be the best bicycle you can be. This is the only way to find joy in this world because our joy comes from the Lord. When we live for Him, serve Him by serving others, and showing Him gratitude for the things we have instead of focusing on what we do not, then something wonderful starts to shift in our lives. We then start to walk in the Spirit instead of in the flesh. We slowly start to gain momentum and this propels us into the next stage of our spiritual growth.

Now when it comes to some practical advice on staying on track while running your race, I find the best biblical advice in what the father-in-law of Moses told him. Jethro told Moses to appoint elders to share the burden of his hard work. Jethro knew that the burden of ministering to a community should never be done alone, but that we all have a part to play. Moses then took his advice. For it is written, “Moses chose able men from all Israel and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens [from the highest to the lowest judicial levels],” (Exodus 18:25, AMP).

Notice that each elder had value regardless of how many people they were appointed over. This is the first key point on how to stay on track. It does not matter if God only appoints you ten people to mentor or shepherd. If you are only given your family to lead then have joy in that and lead them to the best of your ability. If that is how God equipped you, be happy with that. Do not get angry or jealous when your fellow elder is appointed 1,000 people to lead while you only have ten. God equipped them differently than He did you. You may be that normal truck, but that is OK. Do not get angry or jealous of anyone else’s accomplishments or giftings. Celebrate with them from their accomplishments. Be joyful that they are running their race no differently than you are and continue on your path. This is the mark of true humility. It must always be about Christ and not about us!

At the end of the day, it is up to each one of us to run our race. We cannot run someone else’s race, nor can someone run the race for us. So if you find yourself daydreaming of another gifting or calling, remember my story of the vehicles and my friend the music minister. If you find yourself without joy and peace in how you are living, it is most likely because you are operating a vehicle that you are not supposed to be operating or because you are trying to run in someone else’s lane. You are important and you have value to God. You just need to believe this truth and continue moving forward if you want to finish your race.

For it is written, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing,” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV). We must all remember that we are all running our race for a prize. This prize is a reward from Christ after our judgment the words “job well done.” So my word of advice to you all today is to run your race to the best of your ability and keeps your eyes on Christ to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

I would like to end today’s message with a simple prayer. Father God, may you continue to grant us the wisdom and discernment required for us to stay on task to fulfill our true purpose in life. I pray for the strength and endurance to continue running our race, and for encouragement when we feel like we are running in place and not moving forward. I pray that each one of us can stay focused on our prize and live a life that glorifies your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen!

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