One thing that we need to remember as Christians is that we are running a spiritual race.
In Acts 20, we find the apostle’s Paul’s words to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. These were things that really mattered to the great apostle. He writes in verse 24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord.”
Paul used the analogy of a runner in a race many times in his writings. Each of these instances remind us of a different aspect of running the race of life.
1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize.” In other words, you also must run in such a way that you will win! There is no point in running for second or third place. Go for the gold! Don’t settle for mediocrity as a follower of Jesus.
Understand, however, that your “opponents” are not fellow Christians. I am not running the race of life to beat you or anyone else. Our competitors are the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Galatians 5:7 says, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” Sometimes, due to poor choices in friends and companions, we get “off track.” They tend to drag us away from our commitment, instead of encouraging us in it. At the very least, they slow us down. At worst, they sidetrack us.
The best thing for us to do as believers is to keep moving forward in our faith, and don’t let the past or Satan’s reminders of our past trip us up.Philippians 3:13–16 reads, “Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward — to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision — you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it” (msg).
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!