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"You're In A Marathon, Not A Sprint!"

You're in a marathon, not a sprint_canva.png

A marathon is, "any long-distance race ... a foot race on a course measuring 26 miles, 385 yards." (Webster's). In defining the word "sprint," we learn that it means "to race or move at full speed, esp. for a short distance, as in running, rowing, etc." (ibid.). Just as the definitions for these words are different, so also is the training for each respective sport. When sprinting, one wishes to get from point A to point B in the quickest time, expending all energy to get there before one's competitors. In the case of a marathon, one wishes to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible but must also realize that he cannot expend all energy in the beginning, or he will not finish the race! In a marathon, one tries to build up to a certain speed and maintain this speed consistently for the rest of the race. If a sprinter and a marathoner were to race one another, a sprinter might beat the marathon runner initially. Yet, after a short distance, the sprinter is winded, while the marathon runner is just "hitting his stride," ready to run the rest of the race. 
Why are we making this contrast? It is because such an illustration fits the lives of many Christians. Unfortunately, some new Christians "burn out" rather quickly after becoming a Christian.  These Christians are excited about having a new relationship with Christ and with their brethren and wish to learn more and more. In fact, they are sincere in their desire to do all they can for Christ. However, after a few months, they become tired ("winded"?) and realize that this particular course is longer than they thought because it will last for the rest of their lives. It is not possible to run for a time and then "coast" on our momentum. We must keep moving, but they have already become "winded" and tired and then wish to give up. 
Why does this happen? There might be several contributing factors, but ultimately, a fact forgotten by many is that living as a Christian is a marathon and not a sprint!
Hebrews 12:1 compares the life of a Christian to a race. There, we read, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Notice that we are to run this race of life "with patience." It is not something that will be completed in a day or a week, but demands the rest of our lives! Are we conditioned and trained in the right way? We need to be if we are to make this commitment to Christ. Furthermore, we read in II Timothy 4:7 the apostle Paul's words that he has "finished the race." When did his "race" end? It ended at his death. He realized he was soon to die and understood that his "marathon" was quickly coming to a close. Yet, he also understood that he could not be lax nor let up in his running. This is because he knew that if he had preached the truth to others but did not obey it himself, he would be a "castaway" (I Cor. 9:24-27). These are but a few passages that compare a man's life to a race completed at death. Yes, friends, let us appreciate the fact that the life of a Christian is a marathon which demands our endurance, faithfulness, and stamina if we will see Heaven! Living as a Christian is a marathon, not a sprint. 
As Christians, why don't we take the time to examine ourselves (
II Cor. 13:5) and make sure we are still running the race as we ought? Perhaps you have become "winded," downtrodden, and want to give up? Take this opportunity to return to the Lord and renew your commitment to the race that leads us from Earth to Heaven. Remember, there are folks who are cheering you on in this marathon (Heb. 12:1). They want you to succeed, but they cannot run the race for you! We all have a race to run, so let us do so with patience, zeal, and a firm resolve that we will not allow temptation and the allure of this world to trip us up! Let us keep our eyes on the goal of Heaven (Col. 3:1-2) and "look to Jesus" (Heb. 12:2) as we press "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14).


Jarrod M. Jacobs 

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