We all know the scene in Forrest Gump. Forrest is running, Jennie is yelling “Run Forrest Run,” and we’re all cheering for Forrest too as we are watching. Our journey in life is very similar to this. In fact Paul says in Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” There are three points of how to run this race and finish well that I would like to make.
1) Forget the past and keep moving forward.
I remember running the 4×4 relay in high school track. My coach would always tell me, no matter what, keep looking ahead. Because every time I would try to look behind me to see where everyone else was and how much of a lead I had, I would begin to slow down and I would lose sight of the finish line. We see this in Philippians 3:7-14, Paul is using himself as an example. So many times we get caught up looking back at something that happened in the past. Maybe it was something good and we are caught up in celebration over it and we lose our anticipation for the future. Maybe something painful and hurtful happened to us in the past and we’re stuck there. The problem with that is when you’re stuck in the past, you can’t enjoy the present. I heard Bishop Eddie Long, Senior Pastor New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, make such a profound statement concerning this. He said God can’t help you if you’re still stuck in the past because David tells us that God is an ever-present help in a time of need (See Psalm 46:1). So don’t look back, focus ahead, and press on.
2) Run with purpose.
I am an extreme competitor. Everything I do I have to win. Whether it’s playing baseball or even just playing a board game, I got to finish first. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, we are told to run this race of life not just to finish the race but to win. Paul asks the question “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” Paul says when I run I run to win. He goes on to mention that the world goes into strict training and run the race in order that they might get things that don’t last. How much more should we do since the prize that we’re running for lasts an eternity? Jesus said it this way “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (See Matthew 6:20-21). Perry Noble, Senior Pastor NewSpring Church, always says that we were made on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose. So run this journey of life with that purpose in mind.
3) Focus on Jesus.
Hebrews tells us that we have many examples of men and women of faith that have gone before us and that they are cheering for us as we run this race (See Hebrews 12:1-3). So we need to eliminate all the distractions, throw off everything that is holding us back, and run with perseverance. This journey through life is not a sprint it is a marathon and we got to keep persevering. When we let perseverance finish it’s work in us, we will be mature and complete, lacking nothing (See James 1:2-4). The author of Hebrews goes on to tell us to fix our eyes on Jesus and to consider the example He set before us. It wasn’t until Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to look around him at the wind and the waves that he started to sink. It’s only when we forget about what Jesus said and start listening to what Satan and the world have to say that we start to fall. Only when we lose sight of Jesus and start looking at our situations or circumstances that we start to sink. Keep your focus on Jesus.
So forget the past and keep moving forward, run with purpose, and focus on Jesus, then I believe you’ll be able to say what Paul said to Timothy “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”