What Does Fighting the Good Fight Actually Look Like?
Recently I have been looking for a way to stay connected to my Father throughout the day; so I decided to write down scriptures on flash cards so that I could remember His Word and be reminded of Him. As I went through the Bible, I realized something; our relationship with God is like a race, a race that leads to eternity. There are no time outs in this race; we must be running in such a way as to win it. God promises us in James that our reward is the crown of life, but we must love Him as we run our race faithfully to achieve it.
We are not racing against anyone else and need not compare ourselves with others (although we are called to run as one body and need to help others in their race as well). We all start the race when we become born again, and how we finish our race is what really matters. No one knows when they are going reach the finish line.
“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.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Along this race, you will face obstacles, uneven footing, and to add to everything else, you are fighting for your life. In Hebrew the word “run”, means “to fight”. The enemy is trying to drag you down, harass you, and deplete your strength till you’ve ceased running. He loves to tempt you by showing you the easy trail: a simple, smooth, scenic path that seems to lead to paradise. The reality? The “easy” path ends in a thousand foot drop to despair.
Remarkably, when we repent, God doesn’t care how far we’ve fallen. He’ll help us out of the pit we’ve fallen into with a thousand and one foot rope. There’s always forgiveness from our Father for those who are truly repentant.
Tragically, our fickle hearts forget the sorrow that comes with falling and want to go down that path again. But Christ still calls us to run, and with even more vigilance than before. It can be exhausting, but God has given us means to endure the hardships we will face.
The Whole Armor of God
God tells us to put on the whole armor of God, so we may stand against all the schemes of the devil. The armor of God protects us during our race and equips us with weapons to defeat the Evil One.
There are times when our armor seems heavy and a burden to our race. We must remember that the Word says we are putting on God’s armor, not our own. We cannot move forward without Christ’s help.
He tells us to gird our waists with truth, so we may resist the lies.
Righteousness guards our heart as a breastplate, so we may know that we are right standing before our Father.
Peace and the Good News make our feet run all the faster to God.
Faith protects us as a shield, from the fiery darts of the wicked one.
Salvation guards our minds, and the the Word of God acts as our Sword of the Spirit, to discern what is Divine and what is the flesh.
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. ” (Romans 13:11-12)
Leaning on the Father
It was the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, during the 400 meter semi-final. Derek Redmond was at the starting line, waiting for the pistol shot. Boom!
He was off!
Derek felt great, his legs were pumping, the crowd was cheering, and the stands were whizzing past him in a blur of color. Unexpectedly, in the back straight, about 250 meters from the finish line, his hamstring tore! Kneeling on the track, pain seared his leg. Derek was emotionally crushed; he had trained for this moment all his life. He had beat records, but now his chance was over. He knew he had to finish the race regardless.
Stretcher bearers made their way over to him, but he waved them off as he hobbled on. All of a sudden, Derek wasn’t alone! Jim Redmond, Derek’s father, had pushed past security and joined his son on the track, letting Derek lean on his shoulder.
With his father’s support, Derek finished the race. The 65,000 people that were in the stands that day rose to give Derek a standing ovation. Unfortunately, Derek was disqualified because his father helped him finish what he set out to do.
Many of us stumble and fall in our race, but God, like the father in this inspirational story, can come up and support us. He will stay with us till the end of the race, and we will not be disqualified. If we put our hope in Him, He will lift us up on wings like eagles’ and give us the strength to finish.
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Our Guide Through the Race
We can be lost at times and can wander from the narrow path. It is challenging to know which way to go, and our faith can take a hit or two. We think we know the way, and try to find it on our own.
God’s still there though, and He planned our life before we were born. He knows exactly where we are, and where we will go.
If we are lost, He will meet us right in the moment. He doesn’t require us to meet Him in a luscious throne room, covered in gold. Our Father is at every twist and intersection that we face, illuminating the righteous path.
Two men that show the contrasting sides of our races are Solomon and David. Solomon started his relationship with God strong but wandered from God’s plans and never found the way out. In contrast, from the time he was young until his kingship, David never wandered from faithfulness to His Father. Later on, David let himself be deceived, and stumbled hard. But David faced the consequences of his actions, repented and finished his race in a sprint.
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” (2 Chronicles 28:9)
Running a marathon takes training, and training takes time. Thankfully, our Father has much patience with us and is the best coach of all time. He pushes us because He knows what we are going through. He’ll supply our needs by giving us living water and the bread of His Word.
He’s NOT like me and my family after our favorite football team doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl! He doesn’t scream and shout at His 1000-inch flatscreen TV of Heaven and tell us that we shouldn’t have done that. He doesn’t talk about our failures in the post-game show with the angels.
He has grace, wisdom, and most of all love to help us through the race of life that we all are running. God does not like it when we are in sorrow or are suffering, but He knows that it is all for our good. There is so much love in what He calls us to do, and it is an honor to run the race that is our relationship with God.
The reality of our race is such a powerful aspect of Christianity and it never ceases to amaze me how beautiful God’s guidance is. As I thought about how I run in my life, I began to think about how diligent I need to be. How I need to constantly keep going, deny my flesh, and love God with my whole being. Running is never easy, but God calls us to do hard things and with His love in us, we can help others too.