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Are You Running The Race Of Life – The Real Way?

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By Jim Biscardi, Jr.

If we think of the Christian life as running in a marathon race and winning the most awesome prize ever, it can help us resist temptation and become a blessing to others and an important asset in the kingdom of God. 

As we run this Christian race, we must draw closer to Him by maintaining a Christ-centered world-view, embracing His character qualities and priorities, and emulating His behaviors. We need to make Jesus Christ [as He is portrayed in God’s Word] our model for living – following His ways for being successful in life. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 advises us to “…lay aside the weight and the sin that so easily besets, and run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith…” We need to keep our eyes fixed upon Christ as we patiently and courageously run.

As we draw near to God (James 4:8), we put to death our critical, rebellious, selfish, and sinful ways (Colossians 3:5). The old patterns of living cannot survive. The closer we get in our relationship with the Lord, the more we leave behind the world and our natural man [the flesh – doing things our way in our strength rather than His way in His strength]. 

Colossians 3:1 encourages us to seek those things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  As we do this, we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to produce much fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. (John 15:5, Galatians 5:22).

The events in the lives of Elijah and Elisha help us to understand what this means and how we are to run the race of life – the real way (2 Kings 2:1-14). God was about to take Elijah home and so Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of his Spirit. Elijah told him that in order to have that double portion, the prophet would have to see God take him home. If he did, then Elijah would drop his mantle [sometimes translated “cloak”] for Elisha and he would, in deed, have a double portion of his Spirit. 

This idea of “watching” is very important to “winning” the Christian race. Watching Jesus helps us win the “Prize” of the race. That Prize is Christ – shaped into His image. As we watch and follow Him, we become more like Him. 

In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Paul says, “Not as though I have already attained, but this one thing I do: Forgetting what is past and reaching forth to what is before, I press toward the mark toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” 

In Philippians 3:8 and 3:10, he tells us that the Prize is Christ:  “…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings…”

Many of us are familiar with Psalm 23: 1-2, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters…” Do you know that Jesus Christ, Himself, is the “green pastures” and “still waters?” He is the nourishment that energizes us to run the race effectively. 

Jesus said of Himself, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35). If we do not allow Jesus to satisfy our hunger and thirst, we will starve spiritually. There’s a thirst that only He can quench. 

It’s like the marathon runners who must consume water to keep pressing ahead. These runners reach out to grab a bottle of water from somebody along the course because they know it’s critical to winning.  “Like the hart [dear] panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.” (Psalm 42:1). 

Sheep are afraid of a moving stream – running water – so the Lord leads us to “still waters” [to Himself] where His perfect love casts out our fear and we drink freely and abundantly from Him drawing strength to continue running. Often as we run, the Lord beckons us to Himself – to rest a while in green pastures at the still waters – to regain our strength.

Jesus is also “The Finish Line” of our race – the end result.  Runners kick hardest when they are in the final turn and see the finish line just ahead! To help us “see” Christ, the Scripture contains many “portraits of Christ.” I believe that the Gospel of John presents the best portrait because each chapter portrays a different aspect of Christ’s character. 

Elisha followed Elijah wherever he went and never let him out of his sight.  When God sent the fiery chariot to speed Elijah home, Elisha was faithfully watching his master and Elijah dropped his mantle for him.  Immediately, Elisha went to see if he had a double portion of Elijah’s Spirit. 

He picked up the mantle and went to the Jordan river.  He cracked the mantle on the river and said, “Where is the God of Elijah?”(2 Kings 2:14).  The Jordan parted and he walked across on dry ground.  He indeed had that double portion of Elijah’s Spirit and from then on did many exploits for God.

As Elisha followed Elijah and saw God take him home, and received the double portion of Elijah’s Spirit, let’s keep an accurate picture of Christ in the center of our minds – always “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Let us take up the mantle of the Holy Spirit which Christ has “dropped” to help us make disciples of all nations.  Let us follow Him closely, emulate what we see in Him, and RUN THE RACE OF LIFE THE REAL WAY!

As a teacher, author, columnist, and president emeritus of New Jersey Christian Ministries, Jim Biscardi has been “privileged for many years to help Christians grow in their knowledge of Christ.” You can find his books at barnesandnoble.com or amazon. This article is adapted from his book, Run the Race of Life – The Real Way.

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