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RUNNING TO WIN
By Joan Morrone
 
Rivulets of perspiration rolled down into her eyes. Adrenaline coursed through her body as she picked up speed to pass her only opponent, so close to the finish line.

She just had to win. She had a lot to lose if she didn't and much more to gain when she won. In an Olympic race, or any kind of race, to win is what is most important to the contestant. Sometimes they don't care who they hurt in the process.

She had worked hard to get this far and, puffed up with pride, she envisioned the prizes, fame and fortune which were soon to be hers…
 
This is the worldly way of looking at any contest whether it is for beauty, strength or brain. "Climbing the ladder to success" is the way it is described. If you have to push someone out of the way, that’s OK. Ladders aren't wide enough for two of you to make it to the top at the same time.

The rules are vague and made up as you go. Once you get there you are alone and you can't go any further. Then someone else will come along who is more beautiful, stronger or smarter than you. They won't hesitate to push you out of the way until you tumble down to the bottom, a broken hunk of flesh.

Was it worth it?
 
Hebrew 12:1 (KJV) "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

This is God's idea of a race. We compete with no one but ourselves. The "cloud of witnesses" is the saints who have gone before us. They are the roaring crowd who spur us on when we read their records of how they ran the race. Their obstacles were tremendous. They faced many beatings and even death.

Take time to study the records of others who were more than willing to face the devil and his crew, the Christian haters, all for the sake of Jesus Christ.
 
II Corinthians 11:16-33 is the record of Paul (once Saul of Tarsus, a killer of Christians, before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus) and all his labors and sufferings he faced to uphold the Gospel. Beatings, hunger and weariness did not stop him. Paul is a good example of a man who had a one-track mind for Jesus – he was determined to reach the goal of winning souls for the Kingdom of God.

There are many others but Paul is the one who stands out in my mind. Stephen, the first martyr is another. In the power of God, Stephen preached a sermon that caused him to be stoned to death. Saul consented to Stephen's death. Acts 7:58 (KJV) tells of Paul's part of it: And cast him [Stephen] out of the city, and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their clothing at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
 
Read Acts 7:54-60. Verses 55 and 56 tell how we should act when faced with death as Stephen did: "But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (KJV)

Verses 59b and 60 show that, like Jesus, Stephen portrayed mercy, love and forgiveness: "…calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he said this, he fell asleep." (KJV)
 
How would we react if we were faced with such sure death by violent means? Are we any less determined? Are we willing to go through everything, as Paul and Stephen, did to stand tall in our faith when faced with opposition and death?
 
The race we run is not to get ahead of anyone. Our race is against ourselves; our human nature. Each of us has a certain sin or heavy weight we have to get rid of before we can run the race unencumbered. As we run we drop more off and continue to do so until we reach the goal of God's crown in heaven. The race is the important thing; not the crowns, for all crowns belong to Jesus.
 
Not only should we run to further God's kingdom, but also we are told to run with patience. That is really the hard part. We may want to give up no matter how far we have already traveled. That is when we should pray harder. We should keep going no matter what or who gets in our way.
 
The race is worthy of the prize – Jesus. We must keep running.

Joan Morrone is retired from her waitress job with plenty of time on her hands to write about her life experiences, good and bad, before and after she met Jesus. She had written "Mini-Sermons" and passed out 100 a week to her customers from 1987 to 1988. In that time she has had at least one poem published in ten different anthologies; three in John Frost's "Best new Poets of 1987". Now she writes on several different sites on the web; all for the glory of God as a witness to how He works in each person's life. You can write to Joan via the Letters page of this magazine.
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