Your Place in the Race

Bible Reading: Philippians 3:12-21

Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

If you are a believer in Christ, you are in a race.  Not a sprint, but a marathon.  By grace, God plucked you off the broad path that leads to destruction, and put you in a race, a race that leads to “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).  This analogy—the believer in a race—is commonly found in Scripture (1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:1-2).  You started in the race when you first believed, and you will not be done until you are at home with Jesus.  You are not a spectator of this race, you are a runner, and it matters how you run. 

How are you doing in the race?  Our passage speaks to how we are to run.  1) Remember that you are in a good race leading to a glorious finish!  2) It matters not how far you’ve come, you’ve still a long way to go (Hebrews 12:1-2)! 3) Don’t let your past failures or successes get in the way of your present effort (Philippians 3:13-14)! 4) Run in such a way that you may win (1 Corinthians 9:24).  5) Run according to the rules (2 Timothy 2:5).  6) Keep your eyes on the prize.  Fix your eyes on Jesus and the glory that awaits you when you enter His presence (Philippians 3:14).

The 543.7-mile race from Sydney to Melbourne, Australia, is the most grueling race in the world.  In 1983, 150 runners ran that race.  On the day of the race, a toothless, 61-year-old potato farmer and sheepherder named Cliff Young approached the registration table wearing overalls and galoshes.

At first, people there thought he had come to watch the race, but much to their surprise, he had come to run.  Cliff had grown up on a farm without the benefit of horses and vehicles.  When storms came along, he headed out to round up his 2000 sheep over his 2000 acre farm.  Sometimes that would take 2 or 3 days.

When the gun went off, bystanders snickered at Cliff, left behind in his galoshes and overalls as the other runners, with their sculpted bodies and running gear, briskly began the race.  Snickers gave way to laughter when Cliff ran, not like the other runners, but with what could only be described as a leisurely, odd shuffle.

All of Australia was riveted to the live telecast as they watched the scene unfold. “Someone should stop that crazy old man before he kills himself!” Five days, 15 hours, and 4 minutes later, Cliff Young came shuffling across the finish line in Melbourne, winning the ultra-marathon! He didn’t win by a few seconds, or even a few minutes. The nearest runner was 9 hours and 56 minutes behind.

Australians were stunned at this remarkable yet seemingly impossible victory. How did it happen?  Everyone knew that to run the ultra-marathon, runners would run for 18 hours, then stop and sleep for six hours. This routine was repeated for five punishing days.  But no one told Cliff Young. He just shuffled along, day and night, night and day, without stopping to sleep. Cliff broke the previous race record by nine hours and became overnight a national hero.  He claimed afterwards that during the race, he imagined he was running after sheep and trying to outrun a storm.

So run, brethren, run with passion.  Run like Cliff.  Some might laugh at your efforts.  You’ll likely grow weary sometimes and might even fall.  Get back in the race!  By God’s grace, one step at a time, run with endurance the race that is set before you. Keeping your eyes on the prize!


All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my being’s ransomed pow’rs,
all my thoughts and words and doings,
all my days and all my hours.

Let my hands perform his bidding,
let my feet run in his ways;
let my eyes see Jesus only,
let my lips speak forth his praise.

Worldlings prize their gems of beauty,
cling to gilded toys of dust,
boast of wealth and fame and pleasure;
only Jesus will I trust.

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside;
so enchained my spirit’s vision,
looking at the Crucified.

O what wonder! How amazing!
Jesus, glorious King of kings,
deigns to call me his beloved,
lets me rest beneath his wings.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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