“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”Acts 20:24
Have you ever heard the old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race”? Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? The hare didn’t win the race, even though he was clearly the fastest. But, the tortoise did not win by going faster than the hare. He won because the pride of the hare was his downfall. The hare was so sure he was going to win that he stopped running for a time and got behind. He underestimated the driving force behind the tortoise which compelled him to push on regardless of who won the race. He saw the hare was ahead, but he pushed on anyway. And that is exactly what we are called to do in Christ Jesus.
Paul wrote about his life and when he compared it to the task set before him, it was clear to him that his driving force was meant to be the grace of God, regardless of who else was running the race. Paul knew the disciples had the unfair advantage of walking with Jesus while he was on the earth. But that did not stop Paul from boasting all the more about the life Christ had given him to live for Him.
When you and I consider our lives, if we are not careful we can get our eyes off the Lord and start looking at the people running with us and we can become a little prideful in what we are doing for the Lord. This can become a stumbling block for us if we start to drive our lives into a space we are not meant to be in. When Paul says he considers his life’s worth, it pales in comparison to running the race of testifying to the Lord’s grace.
You and I have a race to run, too. Those of us in Christ Jesus have the task of telling others the good news of Jesus Christ. Our God came to earth, lived a sinless life, died a death we deserved, and rose from the dead to conquer death and the grave – for us! If that is not cause for celebration, then nothing else is.
So, how are you running your race, Friend?
Before you go thinking that this race is meant to be won by the fastest, most majestic of moving creatures, and neither you nor I would fit into that category, allow me to give you some permission to go slow. My friend Jennifer Dukes Lee gives us this permission in her book, Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-hurrying Your Heart From an Accidental Farm Girl:
“We tend to believe that to get what we want, we have to pick up the pace. But as it turns out, the truth is counterintuitive. We have to be willing to do something dramatic – radical, even…We have to be willing to slow the pace. The good life we’re after cannot be secured by running hard, but by growing slow.”_ Jennifer Dukes Lee
Jennifer continues to explain in her book the four seasons of a growing slow lifestyle: Spring Planting, Summer Growth, Autumn Harvest, and Winter Rest. Something she says inside her book really hits home with me. She says that “one of the reasons we are in a hurry is because we want to know our life is mattering, and we’re racing against time to make sure it will.” I feel this way a lot, and I’ll wager a bet that you do, as well.
If we take our eyes off Jesus, we will look right at the world and we will see that some people are running faster than us, ahead of us, and making more sense than we do where we are. This can be a difficult place to live if we start to think that what we do, what we say, who we are, do not matter. We have to remember that the message of the cross is that we do matter. We matter so much that our debts were paid in blood.
And that is the message we are tasked with carrying out to the rest of the world. You matter. Jesus said so.
When we live like we matter, we will be like Paul, as he said in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Paul was running his race. He was not concerned with how anyone else was running theirs. Because he loved Jesus, Paul knew that God’s grace was the message and he was the messenger.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”Ephesians 2:8-10
What has God prepared for you to do, Friend? If you do not know, then it is time to ask Him. He is gracious enough to tell you. Until you find out, there is always something we can do that God has called each of us to do for Him: testify to God’s grace in your life. Tell others around you what the Lord has done for you, and for them if they will believe in Him! This is our calling according to Christ Jesus who lived and died and rose again for us all.
As we go into this next week, what are some ways you and I can run our race well so that when we get to the end of this life the Lord will say to us, “Well done!”? Share your comments with me and find me on Facebook to share the stories of your own races with me.