Running & Racing
Running & Racing
by Patrick Reed
“Don’t you 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.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24
Racing is where the distance runner dances. It is the weekly or monthly — maybe even just yearly — prom. It is the proving ground, the laboratory. It is instant youth and it is Play.
I used to love the game of soccer so much — even in my collegiate days — because it represented a complete cosmos, ruled by fairly just judges, and its parameters were as clear as white chalk lines. The object of this bounded life’s pursuit was evident, the rules were agreed upon — and inside of this world, captivated by it, all else in the universe fell away. The game became all of life itself — and outside of the game was irrelevant.
Of course, that worked pretty well until 4th year hit — and graduation loomed — and then suddenly arrived! On that commencement day, so far from the eternal destiny of the soaring black and white orb, striking the net with an elegance fit for heaven; on that day of new beginning, I became the tired runner staring at his shoes, sitting on the curb and wondering what happened. I guess I hadn’t trained hard enough. I guess I hadn’t any plan.
BUT — I knew what I loved. I loved to play that certain game.
And now racing has become that itinerant play. Itinerant by necessity. For only a few of us can play for our living — and then, I have heard, the play is not so much play any more.
So what does the Apostle Paul mean by “Run in such a way as to get the prize”?
Clearly this much and nothing more: Run to win. And what is it we aim to win? Is it the heaps of gold bestowed upon the forward thinking practitioner, who aligned himself adroitly for an easy destiny? Is it to get to the finish first at any cost? Dope, deceit or deviance — you choose?? Or is running to win not really about what we think winning is at all?
For it must be possible, says the theology which stands behind and supports Paul’s words, that every man can “get the prize.” Each only must “run in such a way…” What of this race where every soul can win? Is this the cheapest race — and is its prize, by the market’s definition, the most sordid and banal stuff?
No — emphatically NO!
And maybe, just maybe – your distance running addiction can aid you here in the way of the most elegant illustration. Each of us can indeed win in this game of life. Like the soccer game I so futilely longed to live within eternally, each life’s course is marked by clear boundaries and indeed has a just lawgiver and judge. Better still, the game is made for each of us – tailor made — and the gamekeeper wants, longs, dreams that we would win.
And only one thing is necessary: that we believe in the one whom He has sent. Namely, Jesus Christ – who died for you and me, that we may share in the new life he won in being raised from the dead on the third day.
To run to win — in this greatest race of all — is to believe. Nothing more and nothing less. All else is dross.
Run the race to win it — every day. I am racing right along side with you.
image credit: womanwithamission
I definitely relate my distance running to my spiritual running. i know the feeling of wanting to stop, of getting distracted, or when it hurts to continue. And i remember the glory of crossing the finish line, and i keep going 🙂
Great thought: “To run to win is to believe.” So true! In the race of life, I find it hardest to run when hope is gone. You are right–we must continue to believe and stand on God’s promises, even when we don’t see it/Him. He IS working, even in the shadows–He IS WORKING. Great post!
So wonderful. Great to see this perspective from a coach. Running is a deeply spiritual effort for me and a place where I find gratitude and my best self – on the road. Thank you for such a beautifully written post.
Love your message and writing style! Very descriptive! I love that verse personally. I’ve been known to quote it on long runs – that and the Isaiah 40:31 passage. I often pause at the “run and not be weary” part, look up to heaven, and say… “Remember that? You promised! Now help me out here.” It seems to help! Thanks for the great post!