Run the Race

by Arlene Pellicane

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5 (NIV)

When I go for what I call a “run” — jogging around my neighborhood for about 10 minutes — I often take my large Goldendoodle dog named Winston with me (whose favorite pastime happens to be napping).

Unlike some dogs, Winston doesn’t just run right alongside me or in front of me. He needs a little motivation. So I grab a doggie biscuit and hold it like a baton in front of him. He sniffs with excitement and follows me, usually trailing for the first four houses before catching up. He loves getting his biscuit treat after our exercise!

With the reward in sight, he runs onward.

The Christian life is compared to a race in the Bible many times:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” (1 Corinthians 9:24a, NIV)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7, NIV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7a, b, NIV).

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1c, NIV).

Running a race takes discipline, consistency, effort and movement in the same direction. When we have a reward in sight, like Winston and his dog biscuit, it keeps us motivated, helping us to persevere through difficulty or fatigue. We certainly run for the prize of heaven and rewards like the crown of life (James 1:12) and a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:25) But there are rewards and benefits to enjoy right now in your race!

Our key verse written by David, highlights the benefits of serving God: “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).

David is talking to himself in these verses. He’s encouraging his own heart. He’s reminding himself of the benefits of following God’s commands. He’s giving a “locker room talk” to an audience of one — like a rousing speech coaches give to sports teams before playing a big game.

He’s stirring up praise in the inward man.

He’s remembering what God has done for him that no one can take away.

He’s grateful to be forgiven.

He’s recognizing it is God who satisfies with good things.

This is a glimpse into David’s inner life of praise. It reveals his motivation and what kept him running so strong that he was called a man after God’s own heart. How can we keep running the race faithfully every day after the heart of God?

There are many sinful distractions along the way that trip us up. There’s also a very subtle snare — the trap of forgetfulness. We don’t go off on an evil path. We just slow down and stop remembering all that God has done. We become forgetful, then unthankful. We forget the awesomeness of God. We forget how God has delivered us. We forget why we made the commitment to run the race as a disciple in the first place.

It’s time to awake our souls to remember our God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. When we remember who He is, we have the power to keep running, jogging, walking in the right direction. So what keeps us running the race? Remembering the benefits of following God. Let’s not forget He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns and satisfies!

Heavenly Father, thank You for being my redeemer and for saving my soul. I remember Your goodness today. You do not treat me as my sins deserve or repay me according to my iniquities. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is Your love for me. I take time now to remember Your greatness. Thank You for having compassion on me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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