Why are 5K runs so popular? I don’t think it’s for the exercise, and I don’t believe it’s just the challenge. I know the reason I love them. There’s something special about running alongside others, and the accomplishment you achieve together that makes it so much fun. And the very best 5K’s have people positioned along the way, lining the streets, cheering you on. It’s awesome! You run further and faster than you thought you could, and have an great time doing it. Knowing people are watching and cheering makes a difference. Do you remember we as Christians, as a serve team, we are running a race? Right now, as I type and as you read, we are running a race. Some of you know, and you sweat and bleed every week with your eye on the prize. Some of you used to know. You ran like the wind in the beginning, but then something happened. You hit a hurdle too high, or an obstacle too great. You got tripped up, and before you knew it, you settled into a pace that felt more comfortable, or maybe you stopped moving forward altogether. And now, the thought of gathering yourself up and hitting the pavement again seems too hard, too costly, or simply like too much work.
Consider this truth from a fellow race runner in the book of Hebrews:
“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,”
Who knew organized 5K runs were Biblically inspired? We too are being cheered on at every corner and on every stretch of road by runners who have gone on before us. Who are these witnesses? I believe they include those men and women who have paved the way of the church throughout history. Many of whom not only gave their energy, time, and resources, but people who were crucified, stoned, and literally torn apart by lions to make sure the church continued. They were all in. If the church lost ground in their generation, it wouldn’t be because they didn’t run hard enough or fast enough. They ran until they bled. They ran until they broke. They ran until they died. They literally fell across the finish line to be caught up in the arms of the One who gave His life first.
What a glorious finish!
I want to run that hard. When the great race of life is over, I don’t want Jesus to find me lounging under a tree somewhere along the course, selling my wares because I got distracted by providing a good “American Dream” for my family. I don’t want those witnesses watching to see me basking in the awesome world God created more than I work and sacrifice for the church they literally watched their children die to pass on to me. I don’t want someday to watch my very own children and grand-children saunter along the path, missing the meaning of life, because that’s the very pace they saw me set before them. Fellow runners, please remember, as I remind myself today, when the burden feels too heavy, when the road looks too long, when the sun is too high, and when your legs are too weak . . . Let us remember . . . WE ARE BEING WATCHED. We are being cheered on by those who literally bled to pave the course for us. Oh, what would we see and what would we hear if the veil was lifted, and we could see their faces, hear their stories, and feel their sacrifice. We would never be the same.
I pray we have the courage today to throw off the distractions that tangle us up. When we feel tired, when we feel like stopping, I pray we have spiritual eyes to see and remember those who went before us, and pick ourselves up and RUN! No matter what it takes, no matter what it costs. For the church’s sake, for our descendants sake, for the sake of those who died, for the sake of the One who gave every single ounce of life He could give . . . I don’t want to walk! I don’t want to skip! I don’t want to rest! For God’s sake…I want to RUN!