There’s one question I’ve gotten several times after I’ve run a race. It almost never fails that someone will ask me, “Did you win?” In case you’ve been thinking of asking that to a runner in your life, don’t. That’s not the point.
I mean, maybe it seems like it should be. You run a race to win. But I’ve never come in first in a competitive, timed race. Come to think of it, even on the playground in elementary school, it seems like there was always someone faster. In most of the timed races put on in communities, they categorize runners, comparing them to others in their age and gender bracket. (And just so you know, I’ve never won my ‘middle-aged man’ bracket either.)
You might ask, “What’s the point of running then?” I get it. Seems like if a guy is running a race, he’s should want to win. But most people aren’t running to beat the other people around them. They’re running to get a new PR – a personal record. We’re running against ourselves.
The big goal is to run your race.
That’s my goal, as I train and prepare, and as I line up for a race. I want to do my best, meet my personal goals, and maybe set a PR. But I still tend to compare.
When I train, I run alone. I choose the route. I choose the pace. In a race, I’m running with hundreds of other people. And I tend to compare what I’m doing with what they’re doing.
First, I compare gear. Before a race starts, I might notice what someone else is using to carry their water (so many options!). I notice shoes. I may or may not be guilty of ‘shoe-envy’ from time to time. And I can’t help but notice what people are wearing (or not wearing)! It gets pretty crazy sometimes. I wonder how I’m going to measure up, based on how I look, what gear I have, compared to them.
Most of all, as the race begins, I can get drawn into running someone else’s race, at their pace, instead of my own. Almost subconsciously, I tend to try to keep up with those around me. I get worried if too many people pass me. And too many times I haven’t finished well because I started out too fast, trying to keep up, running someone else’s race.
The Lord seems to keep bringing me back to Hebrews 12 this year, and something at the end of the first verse has spoken to me lately.
Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”
Do you see it there? ‘run…the race marked out for us…’ I need to run MY race. Not yours. Not some famous person’s. Not the race the person across the aisle at church is running. I need to run the race God has marked out for me. And you do too.
Of course I’m not talking about a 5K… This is about how we live our lives in relationship with God. What does He want you to do? What habits does He want you to develop? What relationships do you need to foster? How are you going to spend your time, your money…? What is God asking of you? It’s all about living your life for Him - running your race, the one He has marked out for you.
Let’s be honest… You can’t run anyone else’s race effectively anyway. God has designed you to match what He wants you to do, how He wants you to live. We all have different gifts, abilities and opportunities. You weren’t created to run my race, and I’m not created to run yours. But we get jealous. We compare. Don’t fall into that trap.
Also, no one else can run your race for you. You were made for this – so do it! Of course it’s hard. Sure, it’s demanding. Sometimes you don’t feel like it. Run anyway. Throw all that stuff off that might slow you down or distract you, and run the race God has marked out for you!
Ephesians 2:10 says that you and I have been created by God to do good works that He has designed in advance for us to do. So if there are things to accomplish, a race to be run, and you’re not running, or you’re too busy comparing yourself to others and what they’re doing, how they’re running, those good works won’t be accomplished. No one else can run your race.
And one more thing… At the end of time, as you cross the proverbial finish line of life, you won’t be evaluated by how you ran someone else’s race. You and I are responsible for using the time, gifts, abilities, and resources God has given us to live for Him the ‘race marked out for us.’ God won’t evaluate you on how you ran someone else’s race. Just yours. So…
Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. Discern what God wants you to do, and then run your race with all your heart!