Following on from my last post about winning, it got me thinking a lot about races, especially marathons.
Life can feel very similar to a race. We're all taking part in it, we're all heading in the same direction, Some of us are more able than others, some clearly more energetic and enthusiastic than others, but ultimately we're all in it together.
During a race, especially a marathon, there are only a handful of runners who know they could possibly win, to actually cross that finishing line first. Everyone else taking part is in it for a personal gain, to cross the finishing line, no matter where they are placed.
Most marathon runners know they won't come first, but that doesn't stop them wanting to race. They are still going to push themselves as hard as they can, even though they know there is no chance they will win. They do this because crossing that finishing line, no matter where they are placed, means that they are a winner. They won their own race. They set themselves a goal, and they did it. They don't care how many people finished before them, the fact they took part in it, and succeeded, is what counts.
Have you ever watched a marathon and seen the determination on people's faces, then the pure joy when they have finished the race?
“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG
Like I said, life is like that race. We all have our personal goals, and even when people seem to be winning ahead of us, we need to keep our eyes fix on the prize and keep on going. We need to remember that we're not running against other people, we're running with people, towards the finishing line.
During a race there are people there who are only there to help you win. There's the event organisers, the marshals, the people handing out refreshments, the first aid people and the supporters. They aren't there to race but they're there to help you race. They're there to help you win.
This year I attended the Cherish conference in Leeds. It was a brilliant conference that had some incredible international speakers, but it was the opening message by the conference organiser, Charlotte Gambill, that has stuck with me ever since. The message was entitled 'Set her up to win', you can listen to the full message here.
The message was a challenge to us all to not be envious or jealous when our friends are achieving greater things than us, but to support them and cheer them on. By praying for them, loving them, supporting them along the way, setting them up to win means you will also win. Their win will be your win too.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
Hebrews 12:1-3 MSG
When I think about my journey with Be Loved, it hasn't just been me running alone in this race, there has been a whole host of people in it with me.
When my family tell me they're proud of me, they are setting me up to win.
When my friend Emma looks me in the eyes and tells me she believes in me, she is setting me up to win.
When my friend Beatrice tells me I'm brilliant and that I can do this, she is setting me up to win.
When my friend Hannah sat for hours and hours with me and helped me make sense of it all, she was setting me up to win.
When my friend Charlotte helps me with business ideas, she is setting me up to win.
When my friend Lucy took photos of me for my profile, she was setting me up to win.
When my other friend Lucy filmed me for a promotional video, she was setting me up to win.
When my friend Katie edited the Be Loved journal, she was setting me up to win.
When my friends Hannah and Hannah helped me trial the Be Loved course, they were setting me up to win.
When my whatsaap group of brilliant ladies say they will pray for me, they are setting me up to win.
When my friend Avril drops me an encouraging text or email telling me she's praying for me and cheering me on, she's setting me up to win.
When my friends Emma, Carly, Lucy, Jo, Abi and Leoni tell me I can do it, even when I think I can't, they are all setting me up to win.
When you, my followers, like or share a post or make a positive comment, you are all setting me up to win.
I'm thankful for all the people in my life that are doing this race with me, and I hope that my wins are their wins too.
I also hope that in return they can see that I'm trying to set them up to win. When I say I'll help, I try my best to do all I can to help. When I say I'll pray, I keep those things safe in my heart so I remember to pray. I try to cheer my friends on as best I can and speak positivity into their races.
Beloved, keep your eyes fixed on the prize and run your race with grace and perseverance. Setting people up to win along the way. These verses in Philippians sum it up perfectly...
“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Saviour, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.”
Philippians 3:12-21 MSG
Thank you for running this race with me.
Love and be loved