A lot has changed since I was a young high school athlete running hurdles on a cinder track and measuring the distance in yards rather than meters, as they do today. But one important fundamental remains the same. Good track coaches teach the beginning hurdler that hurdles are a running event, not a jumping event. The hurdles are merely obstacles in a sprint to the finish line. Our Christian life is much the same. Please read more.
Focusing too much on the hurdles will cause a hurdler to lose the race. They cannot sprint up to the hurdle, stop, and then jump it and start running again. The hurdle/obstacle must be taken in stride. We should expect obstacles on our life’s race and learn to take them in stride as well.
A Christian’s life is filled with all types of hurdles/obstacles. Some are of our own making, and some are thrust upon us by this broken world. If we become consumed by our faults and struggles and take our gaze off of the finish line, namely Christ Jesus, we will not complete the race well. Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” Are we prepared to rid ourselves of the self-imposed obstacles that cause us to stumble as we strive towards our Lord?
Sometimes hurdlers lose their concentration and pay too much attention to others running in the race. We often do the same thing in our Christian race. We might follow others and lose our way. This can be especially true for younger Christians who face enormous peer pressure. All of us are susceptible to the risk of being misled by television and social media as they bloviate on topics of modern secular morality. Paul warned the Galatians about being misled. He asked them in Galatians 5:7, “You were running well; who hindered you from following the truth?” If God were to ask us right now, “Who is hindering your relationship with me,” how would we answer?
Despite good training, and many past successes, some hurdlers occasionally stumble on a hurdle and fall onto the track. I remember my older brother taking a particularly nasty fall on a cinder track. His arms and legs were a bloody mess. He was taken to the hospital where the doctor and nurses meticulously picked the small cinders out of his wounds with tweezers and bandaged him back up. Soon, he recovered and was back on the track winning many more races.
Likewise, we Christians often stumble and fall. Paul famously said in Romans 7:15 “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” We have been trained not to fall. We know well the teachings of our Lord, yet we often succumb to doing things that cause us to fall and hurt ourselves, much like my brother did on that cinder track. What obstacles are you stumbling over?
The good news is our God is there like those nurses were for my brother, to tend to our wounds and bandage us up so we can continue the race. Jeremiah 3:22 tells us, “Return, rebellious children! I will heal your rebellions.” Exodus 15:26 gives us this assurance, “I, the LORD, am your healer.” We read in Psalms 147:2-3 that the Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Finally, in Psalms 41:3 we are told that the Lord sustains those on their sickbed and restores their health. If we have fallen in life’s race, let’s allow our Lord to heal our wounds, restore our health and help us to get back into the race.
Track coaches train the hurdler to spend as little time as possible in the air over the hurdle and as much time as possible with their feet on the ground. This is good advice for our Christian race as well. A good coach constantly reminds the athlete that the hurdles event is a sprint race with a few small barriers along the way. Much so is life. Finally, a good track coach teaches the hurdler that many races are won between the final hurdle and the finish tape.
One day, after we have cleared our last hurdle or obstacle on our Christian race, let’s pray that we can make that final sprint to the finish line, fall into the arms of Jesus and proclaim as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”
Heavenly Father, even the best and most trained athletes occasionally stumble and fall. I too, sometimes stumble as I strive towards you. When I do Lord, please bandage me up, heal my wounds and help me make it to the finish line of life, amen!
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