I have never loved running. Plenty of people I know have asked me “isn’t it on your bucket list to run a marathon?” Nope, not even a little bit. Don’t get me wrong; I am a pretty competitive person. I’ll bust out the occasional 2-5 mile run just to see what I can do, but 26.2 miles? Yeah, I’ll pass on that.
Even though I would not consider myself an avid runner, I think we can all understand the point Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 9:24: 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. There are so many things grasping for our attention on a daily basis with many of them being very worthwhile, valuable pursuits. A successful career, physical fitness, financial security, a happy marriage, who would criticize such pursuits? In and of themselves these goals are benign, but when we allow them to control our every decision, we have left the course of the most important race we must run.
Let’s just take a moment and focus on one area that almost everyone desires, a happy marriage. We can all agree that a happy marriage is a good thing and that God has the power to give us just that. The problem arises when we make a good marriage our goal. We believe that a happy marriage will help everything else fall into place. When that happens, we are no longer running in the right race. Our life’s goal should be to follow Jesus with everything we have and to share the message of His forgiveness and freedom.
If in my marriage all I am trying to do is make my partner happy and vice versa, we may end up with a “good” marriage by most standards. We stay faithful to one another, enjoy going to dinner and on vacations with one another, and everyone around us thinks “they’ve got it pretty good.” A happy marriage may be a wonderful thing, but it should never be our ultimate goal. Our marriages would be much better off if husband and wife kept eternity in mind. We must remember that God did not bring us together simply for our enjoyment and happiness but so that we could serve Him better. A couple dedicated to giving their all to God instead of just to each other has enormous power.
This idea of keeping eternity in mind applies to any other pursuit in this world as well. Career, fitness, and finances can all be good things if we remember why God has given us those opportunities and abilities: for His glory and to reach others with His good news. A great runner of any kind keeps the end in mind. That is what we must do; focus on what is ahead. It is not easy to live with eternity in mind every day of our lives, but we must give everything we have to focus on the end of our race.