Running a race well is contingent on a number of things. Most important of course, is the mentality of the runner. As with any form of athletics, the attitude and perseverance of the runner is ultimately what wins the race. They can have the most intricately engineered shoes, the most ergonomically correct clothing and the greatest coach. But at the end of the day, the runner’s mindset wins or loses.
Part of that mindset is what they are willing to abandon to get ready for the race. For some, it’s abandoning sleep… for others, it’s certain foods. For professional competitors, it may mean moving to another place to get ready for a race, and they abandon the familiar and even, for a time, their family and friends.
But “to win the prize,” it’s worth it to them. They will radically cut off anything from their lifestyle that “hinders” them from running well.
I wonder, as we enter these first few days of 2017, how willing we are to get rid of those things that hinder us in our spiritual race? Are we willing to pay the price of radically abandoning comforts and conveniences, and focus on “running to win?” Peter Drucker, world-renown management theorist, speaks of “planned abandonment” in his seminars. The key to success, he believes, is in what we are willing to leave behind to reach the goal.
Now I am not processing this as a success strategy for your career goal. I am advocating a spiritual discipline of radically taking away from our lives anything that hinders us in running our race to win… of running “for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Is the goal worth it? Are we willing to adopt a mindset that says, “whatever it takes I will run to win.”
This may involve physical appetites as well as faulty thinking. The question we must apply to every dimension of our life is, “will this activity, this decision, this relationship hinder or help my race?” In Hebrews 12:1-2 we are encouraged to “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us” and run as Christ ran. What is the weight for you? What is there in your life that, time after time, you allow to “easily entangle you?”
Whatever that is, make an important decision. Plan to abandon it this year. Let go of the weight, the distraction, the hindrance.
And run to win.
FOR MEDITATION: You did run well; who has hindered you? Galatians 5:7
FOR REFLECTION: Take a hard look and inventory activities, decisions, attitudes and even relationships and friendships in your life that may be spiritually holding you back in 2017. Pray specifically that God will help you to plan to abandon these things.