Fit for the Kingdom

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After the Lord saved me, I realised that I had abused my body to the point that, if I did not start looking after it, I’m sure death would have been imminent. This motivated me to purchase a pair of running shoes and start running. On my first run, I left our place and turned right into the street on which I encountered my first hill. (Unfortunately, there were no flat roads to run on. I now wonder if they should have named the town Hilly instead of Hillary.) While I was running up this hill, my legs became like jelly and I was gasping for oxygen when a bus stopped about 200m in front of me and offloaded a couple of young ladies, who started walking in my direction. Although I was a recent convert who loved the Lord, I still had pride deeply entrenched within my soul and so I dug deep and, with everything I had within me, put on a poker face and persevered all the while listening for any giggles while passing them. Thankfully, there was a road which I originally did not intend taking slightly ahead that I turned down and stopped to catch my breath before continuing. This was the start of my running career, which, through much perseverance and hard training, made me fit for many years until recently when I began to slowly let go, finding that, with aging, it became much harder, leaving me with no motivation to continue.

Running is used in the Bible as a metaphor for the Christian race and is often coupled with perseverance. For example, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In my case, the witnesses were two young ladies, perhaps deceived by a prideful runner, looking the part with a poker face. Jesus, however, focused on the joy set before him and endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated on the right hand of the throne of God. His focus was not on the witnesses but on his Father, who sees the heart. He despised the shame, unlike me, who tried to avoid it for pride’s sake.

There are going to be times when we look like fools to the world, we must, like Christ, who endured the cross and kept his focus on the joy set before him, stay focused. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25).

Christian, has lockdown caused you to lose motivation and become lethargic spiritually like my running career, which has, after many years, come to an end? It must not be so or else our race will all be in vain and we will not be fit for the kingdom. Perseverance is a character trait of a Christian. Rather let us say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8).

Keeping fit with you,

Paul