Running the Race in 2019

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David Chancey

A man weighing over 300 pounds sought his pastor’s counsel. He said, “Man, I have to do something. I can’t lose this weight, I can’t get a date, I can’t get a woman to look at me.”

The pastor said, “I can help you. Get ready by 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, wear sweats, running shoes, be ready.”

The man asked, “What are you going to do?”

“You just be ready.”

At 8 a.m., the doorbell rang. He opened the door and there stood the most beautiful woman he had every seen. She said, “The Pastor said, ‘if you can catch me, you can keep me.’” And she took off running. And so did he.

Every day for six months this happened. Finally, the man lost 150 pounds. He looked great, felt great and got up one morning and said, “This is the day. This is it! I’m going to catch that woman today.”

The doorbell rang at 8 a.m. just like clockwork. He opened the door and there stood the biggest woman he had ever seen. She said, “The pastor said, ‘If I could catch you, I could keep you.’” And they took off running.

We’re off and running into a new year. How’s 2019 going so far? Are you making any changes for the better?

If you are a believer, then you, too, are running a race. The moment you received Christ as Savior, you entered the race and are running toward the goal.

Paul loved athletic imagery to describe the Christian life. He wrote in Philippians 3:14, “. . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The writer of Hebrews in 12:1 wrote, “. . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” How shall we run as we start a new year?

Run with resolve. Resolve means to make a definite, serious decision to do something. If you resolve to do something, you give it your best effort. Every year about 60% of us make new year’s resolutions, but only about 8% of us achieve them (https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html).

Whether it’s starting a diet, eating healthier or saving more money, most people blow their resolutions by January 31. The serious runner, however, will run with endurance. They don’t stroll, meander, or wander about aimlessly. They keep pressing forward.

Commit to make this year the best year yet in terms of spiritual growth. Donald Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, suggests ten questions to ask at the beginning of a new year:

*What’s one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

*What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

*What’s the single most important thing you can do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

*In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year and what will you do about it?

*What is the single biggest time waster in your life and what will you do about it this year?

*What is the most helpful new way you can strengthen your church?

*For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

*What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

*What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

*What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?

Also, run with resistance. Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us. As we evaluate our relationship with God, take off anything that would hold us back, weaken our soul or distract our focus.

Sometimes we ask, “What’s the harm in this little sin?” Ask yourself, “Is this action or choice propelling my spiritual race or slowing down my progress? Is it a help or a hindrance?

We know going into the new year that our enemy doesn’t want us to make spiritual progress. He will attempt to trip us up and slow us down. Let’s apply Psalm 37:27: “Flee from evil and do good.”

Then run with resilience. When we do trip and fall down, don’t stay down. Get up and keep on running.

(Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, near McCurry Park. Join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org.)