Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Devotional by Laura Thomas: Running the Race that God Marked Out for You

Spiritual Fat
A devotional written by Laura Thomas

How do you feel about running? We tend to fall into one of two camps: the enthusiastic, marathon-goal, effortless gazelles, or the eye-rolling, couch-preferring, pretty-much-exhausted plodders. Personally, I think I’m somewhere in the middle, I love the IDEA of running. Unfortunately, my body is not always agreeable.

Running an actual race is a whole other thing. That gets most of us skittish. Yet here we are, each one of us running the “race marked out for us”, the race of our lives. Some shuffle, some struggle, some bound with effortless energy toward the goal. Those “effortless energy” types have one thing in common—they are all in really good shape. They shed the pounds and got rid of any hindrances.

“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.”~Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

The previous chapter in Hebrews lists the greats of the Old Testament—such ancients as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. They are our “great cloud of witnesses” recorded to encourage us. None of them lived perfect lives on easy street. In fact, they were all presented with seemingly insurmountable hurdles throughout their races. But they chose to dig in, shed the “pounds” of sin that might slow them in their endeavor to follow God, and they persevered in spite of all the odds.

What is it that weighs us down in our pursuit of living a Christ-filled life? It’s so easy to be drowned by worry, enslaved by fear, consumed by work, distracted by the sparkly things in life, or simply disillusioned. When we carry these extra pounds of sin—and that could be absolutely anything that takes our focus from the Lord—the race is decidedly harder. It’s like running through bog mud in the pouring rain. The journey is miserable, the blessings to others and ourselves are dampened, and we are tangled miserably in our hindrances.

“Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.” 

We need to slim down by shedding our spiritual fat!

Just as a focused runner prepares for a marathon by losing the extra weight to run lean and keen, so we need to “throw off’ the excess baggage weighing us down. Not flippantly disregarding our sin, but rather laying it down before the One who bears our every burden. Sometimes it can be a painful process, but once that metaphorical Band-Aid is stripped off, we heal and move much more easily. And then we can joyfully and energetically run the “race marked out for us”.

David, one of the Old Testament late greats, cried out, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”~Psalm 54:4 (NIV)

We aren’t in this race alone. God so desires for us to live joy-filled, Christ-glorifying lives, and He WILL sustain our every step. The faltering foot, the confident stride, the desperate dash, the persistent plod, the weakest limp… He will never leave us to run alone. Never.

It’s healthy to reflect once in a while on how our walk/run is progressing and to keep a check on what’s weighing us down. All of us have some spiritual slimming to do in order to run effectively; it’s an on-going process, isn’t it?

Surely, we should want the race to be more like an energizing sprint on a perfectly sunny day with the end in sight, pulse racing, a feeling of joy and contentment in our every step. We all know there will be hurdles and pitfalls en route, but with God as our Sustainer, we can strive to strip off our sin, shed the spiritual fat, focus on Him, and “run the race with perseverance” all the way to the finish line.

Transforming hindering pounds to limitless bounds and spiritual fat to fit!

Author bio: 
Laura is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. 

She is truly multi-genre—with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, musings on her blog, and she now has a literary agent representing her Christian romantic suspense novel. 

Laura is English and Canadian, married to her high school sweetheart, mom of three, passionate about faith and family…and chocolate. 
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