Running the race

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

Do you have a hard time fitting God into your schedule? I was recently convicted to spend more of my time in prayer. Thankfully my job involves a lot of repetitive, menial work, which makes it fairly easy to pray while I’m working. Pushing a cart around through a large warehouse all day is actually more enjoyable when you have someone to talk to.

But then there is the problem of the days when I don’t work. The temptation is to tell myself, “Well, I’ve put in my 40 hours. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy myself.” Most of the time that’s exactly what I do. Then after spending the majority of my day in front of a screen, I realize, “Oops! I haven’t spent any time with God.” Then it’s time to grab my Bible, read a chapter, and beg for forgiveness for my negligence.

How can I avoid falling into this habit of ignoring God? I don’t think the answer is to work more or to find a more meaningful activity toward which I can dedicate my free time. Those are just more ways of distracting myself from the presence of God. And I think everybody does that. The problem with Christianity in America is that it’s too easy. We have absolute freedom to gather and to worship as Christians. We won’t be arrested if we’re caught praying. And it’s completely ridiculous to think of someone being put to death for their faith. So what do we have to worry about? well, we still have take care of our families an put food on the table, but that’s got nothing to do with God, does it?

The truth is, we don’t feel like we need God to help us with our day-to-day lives. It often takes an unexpected tragedy or hardship for him to get our attention. I personally have enjoyed the most intimate fellowship with God when my life went through a significant change, like when I went away to college. Adjusting to the new lifestyle was hard, and I felt a need for God’s help. Once college life became the new normal, I found myself becoming lazy in my spiritual walk.

But the Bible tells us that we are in a race. We can approach it as a brief sprint, but we’ll never make it to the end. The truth is, this race is a marathon, and it’s going to take some serious work. In Paul’s words, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

So tomorrow when I wake up, I’m gonna eat my spiritual wheaties and get to work. I will hit my knees and pray like I’ve never prayed before. I will guard my heart from temptation, share the gospel wherever I go, and worship my savior like there’s no tomorrow. On your mark . . . get set . . . go!

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