I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2Ti 4:7
Reading this verse makes us to question what kind of race Paul was running. I am not a sporty person. I entertain myself watching sports. The best I like to watch is the track and field where they race on foot. These runners discipline themselves and train for years to run the award winning race that is so short lived.
There are two different runners. The sprinters and the marathoners. The sprinters run quite different than the marathoners. They need to run in their lanes, straying away disqualifies them. As soon as the pistol fires, they lean forward on support and get into this bursting speed and burn all their power and energy in one go and win the short distance race after a few seconds. Quick results, time efficient, very impressive and amusing. They get lot of attention, shouts of glory and spotlight.
Then there are marathoners. When they start to run, thats when I begin to cook. In the Olympic games the marathoners run to cover up a distance of 26 miles or 42.195 km. They run for about 2 to 2 and a half hours. There is not much excitement in their running style. They run in Phases. In each phase they maintain a steady pace. They start slow to save energy for the final phase. As for me, curiosity would be the only drive that pushes me to watch a marathon race. ‘Will he or won’t he make it?’
The way these two runners utilize the gravity, muscle power, energy and speed, in order to cover the distance differs vastly.
I am picturing the Evangelists to be the one who run sprints. With their enormous hunger to see new souls saved, they are quickly out there with their evangelistic outreach, quick results in short time, utilize all the resources in a go, get all the attention and spotlight and the race is over within few days. Next evangelistic crusade, please. Then there are the Apostles, who also have the same burden for the lost souls. When they start to run, others get back to their chores. There is nothing impressive about them. They go from phase to phase, it is not easy to predict the results so quickly, sometimes it looks like they are not going to make it. But they don’t give up, they press on. They overwhelm and astonish everyone and everything. How they use their resources, energy, speed and power is totally different than the Evangelists. They run a totally different race.
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. Heb 12:1.
Paul definitely talks here about marathon race and not short distance sprint in this verse. We have entertained ourselves with a lot of sprinting evangelistic programs. Sprinters will not win marathons. Sprinting has brought us a certain unhealthy impatience, pressure and burnouts. Is it now the time to run with perseverance the marathon race that is marked out for us?