After reviewing many biblical examples of faith, the Apostle Paul wrote: “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, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
In the Parable of the Footrace, the runner represents each of us, and the track he ran is our personal path, and even the plan that God has for each of His children. The race organizer represents God Himself. In a sense, we might say we’re thrown into the race before we really realize what has happened—the starting pistol has fired, and here we are with our spirits housed in our bodies and living life while we try to figure out how we ended up here in the first place.
Like the organizer, Heavenly Father wants to give us as many chances to run our races as He can, right up until the day ends. “For behold, this life is the time for [us] to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32–33) said an ancient prophet. When the sun has gone down, the race is over.
Don’t we want to give a “decent accounting” of ourselves in the race we’re running?
Unlike most races, the race in the parable was only the runner pitted against himself, over and over. Many track-and-field athletes compete against their own time right up until it’s time to race against others. But in life, there is no race against other people—only the race to beat our own performance. Every day is a new race, a new chance to one-up ourselves, a new opportunity to come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
I feel like this runner sometimes. I can look back on times in my life when I felt like I was running a great race, feeling close to God. There have been other times where I look at my performance and know I’m lacking. I’ve messed up this chance, and tomorrow I’ll have to start over and try to do better. And that can go on for days, weeks, months at a time.
The good news is that if I keep on running the race, that means I’ve stayed on the path and I haven’t given up. It means I’m exercising faith, something the Lord expects of me. There’s an eternal reward waiting for those who run the race with diligence. Yes, we have to sit down and take a few breaths. We have to drink some water and eat a protein bar, so to speak, to refresh ourselves, which could be our personal devotionals of prayer and scripture study and worshipping on the Lord’s day. And yes, we have to get up and go at it again.
I think it helps if we realize that Jesus is at the end of that race. But I don’t just mean at the end of the day. I believe that in His time, I’ll find Jesus Christ to the degree I want to at the end of one of my runs. So I have to keep running the course until I find Him there waiting for me.
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Some race days are harder than others. It’s easy to fall behind and think I’ll never catch up. But no matter how far I am from the finish line, like you said, I simply must stay on the track and do my best to move forward. Jesus, the finisher of my faith, will also be the finisher of my race. Without him, I am lost; with him I cannot lose.
Thanks for those thoughts. Like the race organizer, who was there at the beginning and the end, Jesus is Alpha and Omega, the author and the finisher. But also like the race organizer, He knows where we are in the race at any given time and how we’re doing.