As a little girl, I was always mesmerized by my Grandmother when she would sit in her living room, pick up her guitar and begin to pluck it’s strings. Those same hands had made biscuits that morning, folded some laundry, cut up potatoes for dinner and now cradled the neck of this guitar so gently and yet firm enough to sustain the melody of her afternoon song. One of my Grandmother’s favorite songs was “Victory in Jesus” and not only did she know the lyrics and melody by heart, she knew the One she was singing about in the depths of her heart. She sang from experience of a life of hardships and heartaches, and yet her tune had hopeful and joyful tones as well. It was as if she knew a secret that I had yet to discover.
The Word of God contains so much rich imagery of what its like to live a life in relationship with Jesus. One of the best examples is of a runner who must run a race, but make no mistake, this is not just any race. It is the race of our very lives and definitely more of a marathon than of a sprint.
The writer of Hebrews gives us a vivid picture of this concept:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
This life we live, is not just a battle in the war for our souls and the souls of those around us, but it’s also a race that must be run day in and day out. I must confess something to you. As I have gotten older…..I HATE RUNNING! As a young girl, I loved to run. I loved to race with the hope of beating friends, classmates, or cousins. Sometimes I won! That felt great. But now that I am older, I love to walk. I like to walk fast but never run.
There are seasons of life when we feel like we could run (metaphorically, of course) forever. Life is good and we feel light and the soundtrack of our surroundings is perfect for a good run. Then, other seasons leave us feeling like we may just need a walker or even a wheelchair to get from one place to another. We are breathless and tired, weak and fragile. Jesus knows that, friend. That’s why we are called to run “the race that is set before us”. But no matter what, WE KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
Isaiah the prophet spoke to people who were tired of running and were exhausted. Here is how God encouraged them:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
Like every good race there is a prize at the end of our life’s marathon! At the end of this war we are waging against sin and for our peace, there is a Winner, a Victor, a clear and glorious prize and it is the lover of our souls and king of our hearts, JESUS CHRIST, Himself! Not only is He our prize, He is our strength today to keep moving.
Just as I was drawn to my Grandmother’s soul songs on the guitar, the spiritual songs of the American slaves have always stirred me in the deep places. Pain and promise, agony and adoration, helplessness and heavenly hope are all weaved together and just like a ray of sunshine that breaks through a dark cloud, those songs seemed to break open with an assurance that victory is coming, freedom is sure and life will get better because Jesus is King. If they could sing of this hope in their deep suffering, how much more can we?
Even now, I love the honesty and the joyful hope of contemporary gospel music. These songs remind me that my present circumstances (no matter how dark they appear) are NOT the end of my race! And my friend, they are NOT THE END OF YOUR RACE! There are brighter and better and lighter days coming. Jesus has not abandoned you and He is not unaware of your exhaustion and fragile faith. He and the hosts of Heaven are cheering us on, encouraging us by their lives and testimonies and what they endured to keep walking, keep running, keep hoping because Jesus is worth it!
Even in a marathon, the runners grab a cup of water to refresh their strength and enable them to keep running. So, sit for a moment and drink from the cup of Jesus – the living water and then even if you must walk……KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
Proverbs 4:18 says,
“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”
Run your race, fight the good fight of faith (2 Timothy 4:7) and know that the Author and Finisher, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End of all things, King Jesus is our prize today and always.
Angela and her husband currently live in GA, USA. They have four children at home and one married in 2018. Angela is passionate about ministry to women and loves to meet new friends. She’s been teaching the Bible for over 25 years and desires to encourage women to study the Word for themselves and see the beauty of Jesus in their lives. Follow along with her on facebook at Angela Wheeler Boeckman and on Instagram @acwboeckman. Thanks for reading!